Daniel Dern shares his pictures of guests, panelists and vendors who participated in Readercon 29 over the July 12-15 weekend.
GoH Nisi Shawl
Daniel Dern shares his pictures of guests, panelists and vendors who participated in Readercon 29 over the July 12-15 weekend.
GoH Nisi Shawl
Compiled by Carl Slaughter: These cosplayers really go all out. The poses are so realistic too.
More videos follow the jump.
[Editor’s Note: This advice about how to become a panelist on convention programs, written as a comment here yesterday, is so helpful and practical that I asked permission to repeat it as a front-page post.]
By Heather Rose Jones: I think a lot of people aren’t aware that most conventions have mechanisms for volunteering to be on programming. Doesn’t always mean you’ll be offered any, but especially if you aren’t a Big Name, you can wait a very long time to get a personal invitation out of the blue. (Though I am on the side of those who think being a Hugo finalist is a good reason to get a personal invitation out of the blue for Worldcon programming.)
This is, of course, one of the things that contributes to programming often being the same limited pool of people a lot of the time — they’re the people who know the various systems for getting on programming. So what are some of those systems?
When you do so, think up entertaining and informative programming ideas and propose them. Conventions are always hungry for new and interesting programming ideas and sometimes they will explicitly prioritize giving programming slots to people who contribute to the process.
Now we come to the “who you know” items. Be an interesting and articulate person in the company of people who are involved in coming up with programming ideas or proposing potential panelists. Engage in casual discussions about the topics of your interest and expertise. Tell people outright that you’d enjoy contributing to programming on a particular topic. One of those people you’re talking to may tell someone else, “Hey, you know who would be great on this panel? So-and-so!”
I’m not going to lie. I got my start participating in convention programming at small conventions where the concom were personal friends of mine. I’m less fond of the notion of Worldcon programming being given out on the basis of “she’s a buddy of mine” but it’s a perfectly acceptable way to get a foot in the door at a local convention.
Find ways of contributing to the convention experience that don’t have gatekeepers: interest groups, spontaneous activities. Be entertaining and informative and get along with people. They’ll remember you. And while I’m at it, never discount the advantages of volunteering at cons to get a chance to get to know people who might help open the door for you. (But be aware that people can tell when you’re trying to get to know them solely for this purpose.)
Some of the avenues to program participation aren’t open to everyone. I believe that Westercon sends out a general programming invitation to SFWA members. There are some cons where I got a program participation invitation out of the blue that I think was based on SFWA membership. Dunno. But conventions who do that also have other ways to get on programming, so it’s not an exclusionary thing.
If a programming topic excites you, follow-up on it with other people (panelists or not) who were similarly excited about it. Discuss your ideas. extend the panel discussion (without cornering a program participant who needs to be elsewhere!). Suggest moving it to the bar or socializing-venue-of-your-choice. Be part of the conversation even if you aren’t behind the table with a microphone.
Well, that moved away from “how do I get onto programming” a bit. But keep in mind that the officially scheduled programming is only one part of a convention. Be the programming you want to see in the world.
Comic-Con International starts in San Diego on Thursday. Associated Press reporter Lindsay Bahr’s preview article, “1st Comic-Con of the MeToo era grapples with harassment”, picked up by papers like the Miami Herald, outlines the con’s historic harassment issues and turnover in this year’s guest list, but also speaks uncritically about the SDCC Code of Conduct. The SDCC CoC has not had a good reputation in the past — see for example the 2014 post “San Diego Comic-Con Pushes Back on Harassment Policy Petition” — and I reached out for comments on its current deficiencies for this File 770 post.
The AP article says —
…The convention has always been a home for comic book and genre enthusiasts, and a refuge for like-minded fans to mingle, but it’s also been a place rife with harassment of women and others, whether it’s cosplayers (people who dress up in costumes), general attendees or even those hawking merchandise (sometimes called “booth babes”).
“I don’t think any convention has historically been a safe or inviting space for women,” says Cher Martinetti, the managing editor of SYFY Wire’s Fangrrls site.
Sexual harassment at fan conventions is a subject that is often raised, but the scrutiny will be even more intense this year with the heightened awareness about misconduct.
Just weeks ago, Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, a mainstay at Comic-Con and moderator of numerous panels, stepped aside from moderating AMC and BBC America panels amid allegations from an ex-girlfriend , which Hardwick has denied. And since last fall a handful of familiar Comic-Con faces, have been accused of misconduct as well, like Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles and “Honest Trailers” creator Andy Signore.
Comic-Con has a code of conduct that representatives say was, “Intentionally created to serve as a comprehensive measure that makes attendee safety a priority.
“We want all participants to feel if they are treated in a manner that makes them uncomfortable, that there is a system in place that will respond to misconduct and sexual harassment,” Comic-Con International told The Associated Press in a statement Sunday.
According to the code, attendees must “respect commonsense rules for public behavior” and “personal interaction” and that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.” The code specifies that anyone who feels at risk should report it to a security person or a staff member and outlines the location of the show office in the San Diego Convention Center, which is open during show hours. Anyone who violates the code is at risk of losing their pass….
Attendees must respect commonsense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate the nearest member of security, or staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner.
The Comic-Con Show Office is located in the lobby of Hall E of the San Diego Convention Center. During show hours you can always find a Comic-Con staff member or security guard at the Show Office. Please stop by there if you have any questions or concerns.
Four people who answered my call made these observations about the Code of Conduct.
The flaws with the Comic-con’s approach seem obvious, but here are my immediate (and general) thoughts about it.
I went and read through the actual policies page and, in addition to the Code of Conduct being woefully short and vague, there are no policies that address what “commonsense rules” for public behavior, interaction, etc actually looks like. Nothing to address videotaping or taking photos of people in public or private spaces. (They have two different policies regarding not recording panels/panelists or any images or video footage being presented because proprietary and exclusive, blahblahblah.) Nothing about asking permission to hug strangers or touch them or put your arm around someone for a photograph. Nothing about what harassing or offensive behavior means.
I mean, sure – you can’t write out *everything* that would be problematic. And things that are an issue for some folks won’t be for others. But by giving no examples it leaves the door wide open for abuse. (“I didn’t know they’d mind if I snapped this photo of her bending over.” “All my friends let me hug them, it’s no big deal.”) And it means that folks who are having problems will be even more reluctant to report them because they won’t know if the staffer they approach for assistance will take them seriously because there are no written guidelines about what the convention considers inappropriate. Of course, not writing anything down also lets the con off the hook if something with a higher profile guest happens because they could claim that there was no violation of written policy. Which does make the obvious omission of anything looking like an actual Code of Conduct seem suspicious.
Taking a quick look over the Code of Conduct on the convention website, the glaring omission here to me, other than the Code of Conduct being a little vague (no attempt at defining “common sense rules”), is any sort of information about what to expect when one makes a report, or what will happen after a report is made. Lack of evidence that there is a post report process concerns me, as does the fact that there is no number to call in case going to the show office would not be a safe option.
I’m far from a code of conduct expert, and even less so in working on enforcing them (I’m one of the last fen I know who I know should be put into that spot). But having read some code of conducts, discussed them sometimes, and seen a few incidents play out, I can give the following comments.
The code of conduct has some things in its favour: it is brief, it contains no parts that obviously contradict its purpose, and it gives the right to rescind memberships. If this was a small con, with maybe a couple hundred attendees, with no prior history of harassment, and known good people in the concom, this would be a workable CoC. And it does not contain the dread “your right not to be harassed is not a right not to be offended” clause.
Its deficiencies are in the things that are not said, because none of those three factors above are likely true for SDCC.
(1) No dedicated chains for reporting harassment. Handling harassment cases beyond any initial intervention is psychologically tricky at the best of times. The only con security people I’d trust to have a clue here are the Finnish ones. A con the size of SDCC should list a phone number, e-mail account, and at least physical point of contact dedicated to CoC issues. These points of contact should be heavily promoted (I’d not be averse to putting at least the phone number on the badge itself). Given SDCC’s size, the phone should probably be staffed 24/7 during the con, not only during show hours.
(2) There are no promises from the con regarding how CoC issues will be handled. Granted, the CoC itself is not the place where one should detail instructions to staff, but it should at least: (a) give a promise of confidentiality and discretion from the con towards the person reporting the issue, (b) outline the assistance and help the con can or will provide.
(3) The highest sanction the con reserves is to rescind a membership. Arguably, it should mention contacting the authorities as well, even if it is only like “we will assist any person wishing to contact the authorities, and assist the authorities in any following investigation”. I know US police are far worse than the Swedish police (which also have a poor historical track record), but the con might find itself dealing with cases of reported rape or sexual assault.
(4) No specific guidelines regarding cosplay or photography, nor any examples (clearly not limited to the list itself) of what the con sees as harassing behaviour.
John Scalzi says the CoC is why he keeps passing on chances to attend the convention:
The SDCC’s code never offers examples of what it considers harassing or inappropriate behavior (see the code of conduct at New York Comic Con as an example of a good version of explaining what it is) — it’s all a judgement call by whomever is taking the complaint, and it allows harassers more wiggle room than they should have. That’s not acceptable to me, and it’s one reason I haven’t been back to SDCC in several years.
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter for the story.]
Kevin Standlee sent the link to a playlist of videos of today’s Westercon Business Meeting in Denver, along with an abbreviated report of the results:
“The meeting managed to get all of this done in just under 50 minutes,” writes Kevin, “which meant that they did not have to go to an ‘overflow’ session in the afternoon, much to everyone’s relief.”
Westercon 72, to be held in Utah in 2019, has announced its Gaming Guest of Honor will be The GM Tim Mottishaw.
Professional Game Master (GM), author and podcaster Tim M., aka The GM Tim, hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As a contributor to the podcast network “The Commentist”, Tim participates in two of their podcasts, “Loose Endz” (Live play Dungeons & Dragons) and “Skyfire Comics” (Live play ICONs), and starting with Season 4 of the network’s flagship podcast “Roll to Hit” as the GM. You can find him on his website, http://thegmtim.ca or @thegmtim on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook Page.
As a professional GM, The GM Tim has become a go-to panelist and RPG Judge at GenCon, Winter Fantasy, and Goblins II Golems. He is an advocate for breaking down the aged beliefs and stereotypes associated with RPGs. as the Tabletop/RPG Coordinator for GaymerX West, and organizer of Quests & Queers (an LGBTQA2+ Game Night) Tim champions the belief that gaming should bring everyone together regardless of race, gender identification, and political views.
This year The GM Tim will be spending time in France for D&D in a Castle D&D in a Castle among other great Game Masters such as Jeremy Crawford, Elisa Teague, and Ruty Rutenberg.
Anyone with questions can find con representatives this week at Westercon 71 in Denver. They are running a fan table and hosting a party Friday Night at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center to promote Westercon 72, 1632 Mincon, and their upcoming NASFiC Bid.
When David Weber got chair Jada Hope Diaz to publicly accept all his conditions for becoming ConCarolinas’ guest in 2019 (see video of her statement here), including an apology to John Ringo, who had withdrawn as a guest amid controversy over his selection, and then rallied thousands to sign his “Ensure Freedom of Speech & Assembly at ConCarolinas” petition “to support Jada Hope and Luis Diaz’s stance on the demands to disinvite guests at ConCarolinas based on unfounded and unproven stories posted by Internet pressure groups” — he did not expect that two weeks later they’d be quitting anyway.
Weber moved immediately to take control of the conversation:
Jada informed me yesterday [June 22] that she and Luis would be stepping down from the ConCarolinas con committee. My family and I were driving home from Myrtle Beach when she and Luis actually posted the news online, so I’ve just seen the formal announcement.
For all of you who signed the petition supporting the position they had taken at closing ceremonies on the dis-invitation of guests, I think a couple of things need to be understood.
The first is that Jada made it clear to me in her exchange of IMs with me that it was HER DECISION to step down, based in large part on medical considerations, because of her continued problems with the concussion symptoms from her head injury. I have no doubt at all that all of the stress involved with the concom’s internal debates played a major role in that (not to mention the brouhaha about John Ringo, prior to and during this year’s convention), as well. If nothing else, I’m sure it was at least a part of what her doctor was talking about when she said she had to cut back on stresses.
However, Weber also said the couple had lost the support of some other members of the ConCarolinas committee:
The second is that the concom has as yet made no statement (that I am aware of) regarding the policy that she enunciated at closing ceremonies about guest invitations and DIS-invitations. I was assured by several people who contacted me to discuss the ongoing, background tensions within the concom that the unhappiness with Jada and Luis as cochairs had nothing to do with that policy and that they — at least as individuals — supported the position Jada had taken in that instance.
But Weber is taking pains to insure that the change in leadership won’t be interpreted as a repudiation of his agenda:
I messaged Jada in these exact words:
“Don’t think anyone who signed it [the petition] just wants to beat up on cons, but they [the concom] need to be aware that a lot of people on the outside looking in DO see the petition as a referendum on your no dis-invitation policy.”
I think that is absolutely true, and I think the ball is now in the reorganized concom’s court, and I think that we, as the signers of that petition, NEED TO GIVE THE CONCOM TIME TO GET ITS FEET UNDER IT AND DECIDE WHAT IT WANTS TO DO GOING FORWARD.
This is not a time to leap upon the concom and beat it with spiked clubs for “forcing Jada out.” It is time for us to see what happens going forward and to let ConCarolinas CHOOSE ITS OWN PATH. If, at the end of the day, we don’t like the path it chooses, then it is always our option not to support the con. If, on the other hand, the con embraces Jada’s position on this issue going forward, then I believe it is incumbent upon us to meet them at least halfway.
I have said from the beginning that the object is to fix the problem, not to break anyone’s — or any GROUP of anyones’ — kneecaps. It’s time to let adults be adults and make adult decisions and then for the rest of us to respond as adults.
Jada Hope wrote in a comment on Weber’s June 24 post.
I want to thank everyone who has Been supportive to me and Luis (who is making me deactivate my account today). So many don’t even know me or Luis and have been kind and encouraging.
After our meeting with the other members of the committee I am very convinced they will support the statement that was made at closing ceremonies….
David Weber’s June 24 update said he is in dialog with ConCarolinas’ acting con chair:
…Since my previous post about Jada and Luis stepping down from the ConCarolinas concom, I have been in contact with the acting con chair.
He tells me that they are very much in the process of ASSEMBLING a concom; it was a small committee to begin with, and it just got two vacancies, so it may take them a little while to round up the pigs and chickens before they can start getting them into a row.
He reiterated to me that Jada’s decision to withdraw was directly related to her health and that her doctor was becoming seriously concerned about the damage she could do herself spending lots of time with computer screens and stress and was “adamant” that she stepped back.
He told me that the con is strongly committed to maintaining Jada’s stated policy where dis-invitations of the guests are concerned. He said to me:
“First priority is new leadership in place. Second is reiterating the spirit of the closing ceremonies video. Disinviting is bad form, full stop. The concom will not be pressured from any group to renege on a contract.”
That is, in fact, only a portion of what he said to me about the con committee’s commitment to openness and a rejection of the dis-invitation of guests and about the creation of a mechanism to support that policy and give it teeth.
I believe that he is completely sincere about this, and what he has to say about Jada’s health tracks perfectly with what Jada herself has told me, as well as what I have heard from a third source.
So it sounds to me as if the convention is determined to stand by the policy Jada announced at closing ceremonies.
I hate it that Jada’s health is shaky enough to make her decision to stand down necessary, but at this time, I genuinely believe the revamped con committee will stand by her guest policy.
Which constitutes a win for the grown-ups.
When someone asked Weber who the acting chair is, Weber declined to say:
I’d rather not name names at this point, but if you know the ConCarolinas original concom, he was vice chair.
Weber is taking pains to verify why the change happened, and what the new chair’s policies will be, because of the adamant statement he made in his petition —
We believe that if ConCarolinas ejects Jada Hope and Luis Diaz from the Convention Committee (the managing body of the convention) and reverses the position they have taken on the dis-invitation of guests, then no one who believes in freedom of expression should attend this convention ever again.
The ConCarolinas controversy has now taken the form of rival petitions.
As reported in yesterday’s Scroll, at iPetitions signers are calling for the “Removal of Jada and Luis Diaz from ConCarolinas Committee”. (Jada Diaz is the convention chair, and Luis, her husband, is head of security.)
Please sign below if you have been a part of ConCarolinas but have decided not to return if Jada and Luis do not step down. Feel free to remain anonymous. This is NOT a forum to discuss issues, this is a platform to show the current impact to the continued survival of the Convention.
However, most of the signers are anonymous, and some of the comments left by signers are critical of the effort. The petition has 114 signatures – including the dissenters – at this writing.
At the end of the con last weekend, ConCarolinas chair Jada Diaz delivered a statement she negotiated with author David Weber (the video is here). Weber, creator of the Honor Harrington series, agreed to be the convention’s guest in 2019 provided the committee met his conditions, including a public statement repudiating those who had issues with John Ringo’s selection as a special guest, with an apology to Ringo, who had withdrawn as a guest after discussion with the chair.
Opponents of the removal petition started an iPetitions effort of their own to support the ConCarolinas chair, “Fight against discrimination in SF”.
Sign this petition to support Jada, Luis, Science Fiction,Authors and a true fan base
Petition is to counter the bigoted petition against Jada and Luis of Con Carolinas and Support Guests from being disinvited because of a vocal minority.
David Weber was among the very first signers, which now include Jon Del Arroz, Lou Antonelli, and Richard Paolinelli. It has gained 117 signatures so far.
David Weber liked the idea of a petition so much he started his own at Change.org: “Ensure Freedom of Speech & Assembly at ConCarolinas” which has gained over 1,600 signatures.
We’re here to support Jada Hope and Luis Diza’s stance on the demands to disinvite guests at ConCarolinas based on unfounded and unproven stories posted by Internet pressure groups.
Our goal is to obtain as many signatures as possible as a way of demonstrating who is truly in favor of diversity by raising our voices. We’d like to count them in the hundreds, but we’d really rather count them by the thousand.
This is not a petition to support inviting guests who the con committee believes would be problems for the con or who do not seem, to the con committee, to be a “good fit” for the people who attend ConCarolinas. We who sign this petition are saying only that once an invitation has been issued, the guest invited should not be subsequently disinvited simply because someone else planning to attend the con will be uncomfortable in that guest’s presence.
We believe that no one, left or right, should have an ex post facto veto right over who can and cannot be invited to a convention nor should the vocal minority, who do not work for the con in any capacity and are simply attending A PRIVATE EVENT of their OWN FREE WILL , be allowed to exert that kind of influence over a convention.
We believe that if ConCarolinas ejects Jada Hope and Luis Diza from the Convention Committee (the managing body of the convention) and reverses the position they have taken on the dis-invitation of guests, then no one who believes in freedom of expression should attend this convention ever again.
Some of us have attended ConCarolinas in the past, as either a ticket-buying attendee of the con or as an invited guest. Under the ‘I’m signing because…” section please indicated if you’ve attended in the past as a guest or attendee and if you will attend in the future if they are removed.
The video below shows the apology that Jada Hope made at the end of ConCarolinas 2018 on June 3rd to John Ringo and re-emphasized the con’s commitment to an inclusive atmosphere for all people….
Weber is heavily promoting the petition in his social media. On his own Facebook page he wrote —
So the counter attack has begun at ConCarolinas. We all knew it would, but I have to admit that I was at least a tiny bit surprised by the speed with which it’s been mounted.
Essentially, there is a move afoot to “disinvite” Jada and Luis from the con committee. There is a petition online seeking 600 signatures in support of that removal. The last time I was there, it had 63.
I believe that the most effective way that we can support Jada’s position at this time — and, people, she deserves all the support we can give her — is to buy supporting memberships for 2019 and post on the Carolinas Facebook page that we have done so — one by one — and why, and inform them that if, in fact Jada and Luis are evicted from the concom, they may have our money this year, but they will never get it again.
For myself, I will say only this. If, in fact, Jada and Luis are removed from the concom, then ConCarolinas is DEFINITELY going back on to my list of cons I will not attend, and I will be urging everyone that I know to never attend that convention again.
Interestingly, when his wife, Sharon, put a link to his call for signatures on The Royal Manticoran Navy Facebook page, run by a large group of Honor Harrington series fans, her post reportedly was removed for violating the group’s rule about political posts, then restored at the request of David Weber.
Apparently this is the rule:
There has been quite a bit of discussion about the appropriateness of the Webers’ request, especially in comments on Dave Cleric’s post to the tRMN group (which is public) where Weber participated. Here is a brief excerpt.
By John Hertz: Westercon LXXI, combined with Myths & Legends Con VI, will be 4-8 July 2018 at Denver, Colorado: the Denver Tech Center Hyatt Regency Hotel. We’ll discuss three Classics of Science Fiction, one discussion each. Come to as many as you like. You’ll be welcome to join in.
In fact Denver has hosted three Worldcons, but this is its first Westercon. Partly by way of unbreaking the circle, Denvention 3 chair Kent Bloom, and his wife Mary Morman, will be Fan Guests of Honor at Westercon LXXI. But I digress.
I’m still with “A classic is a work that survives its own time. After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.” If you have a better definition, bring it.
Each of our three may be more interesting now than when first published.
I thought it only right that each should have something to do with myths and legends.
Have you read them? Have you re-read them?
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)
Three men who discover a country peopled only by women find “daring…. broad sisterly affection … fair-minded intelligence…. health and vigor … calmness of temper” (ch. 7). It’s neat, imaginative, warm-hearted. How does she do it?
Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road (1963)
Is it science fiction? If not, where does fantasy belong? Samuel R. Delany called it “endlessly fascinating” and said it “maintains a delicacy, a bravura, and a joy”. Is he a dope? Why does Heinlein’s preface quote Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra? What happened to Herr Doktor Professor Gordon? Is this (gasp) a feminist tract?
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Hard to Be a God (1964)
Centuries after Communism has inevitably prevailed on Earth, students follow other planets – but if they interfere, they’ll ruin the progress of historical materialism and bring about catastrophe. How’s that for a Prime Directive?
Best-selling author Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, Ever After High) received wide support today when she said on Twitter that FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention violated her privacy by posting a message she had sent them that included her email address.
Disappointed with the way an organization has publicly handled a sexual harassment accusation, I've been communicating with them privately, hoping they'd step up. Just got an email response. Please play sexism bingo with this paragraph. pic.twitter.com/PT1J0rMsFU
— Shannon Hale (@haleshannon) May 21, 2018
Many people tried for weeks and months to resolve this privately, but they doubled-down, so it's coming out now. FanX (formerly Salt Lake Comic Con) is the convention. I will no longer be attending. https://t.co/QmhKsXlwJf
— Shannon Hale (@haleshannon) May 21, 2018
Wow. FanX is now coming at me. They have published my full email without redacting my private email address, but they did cut off some of the sexist comments Bryan made at the end. And what I asked for was public clarification after you dismissed harassment as "hugging" https://t.co/lkwvnjeI2w
— Shannon Hale (@haleshannon) May 21, 2018
Here is a screencap of the convention’s tweet (with the email address blacked out).
The Salt Lake Tribune has been following the original harassment complaint story for the past few weeks. They reported on May 6, “After complaint, Utah author Richard Paul Evans is among many reflecting on when and how to hug”. However, they soon learned Evans and unnamed others had been dropped as guests (May 8): “Utah author Richard Paul Evans among guests not invited back to FanX, as convention faces pressure to write anti-harassment policy” —
Several celebrity guests, including Utah author Richard Paul Evans, won’t be invited back to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention in September, as event organizers deal with accusations of sexual harassment at past conventions.
FanX officials sent an email Tuesday to members of an authors’ group, telling them the convention is updating its harassment polices and has decided “to not invite back at this time several guests,” The Salt Lake Tribune has learned. The writers have posted an online petition demanding a firm policy against harassment.
FanX co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg posted a modified version of the email on a private Facebook group for the event’s regular panelists. Once they have received input from panelists, the organizers said, they plan to post an updated harassment policy publicly. FanX has acknowledged its policy focuses on attendees, and not celebrities and panelists.
The Facebook message does not mention that anyone would not be invited back for panels, book signings or other convention events.
“Generally, there are some people who are not coming back, whether it was a mutual decision or whether we’ve decided not to have them back,” Farr said Tuesday. “We don’t maintain a blacklist, or anything like that.”
When asked if FanX is investigating accusations of harassment, Farr replied, “We’re always reviewing information as it comes in.”
The email sent to the authors said FanX is creating a committee to “further investigate any allegations,” and said it has been looking into “specific issues” since its last show.
Though FanX will not discuss specific cases, Farr said one person who has agreed to stay away this fall is Evans, known for such sentimental tales as “The Christmas Box” and the science-fiction “Michael Vey” series. Evans has been accused of inappropriate behavior after a panel at last September’s Salt Lake Comic Con (now called FanX). A woman complained to FanX officials, but has not made her name public.
While the press developed the story about the complaint and the way it was being handled, the convention organizers announced a new “FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention™ Anti-Harassment Policy”.
However, convention co-founder Bryan Brandenburg reacted to the pressure by making the unguarded remarks to author Hale quoted above.
The Salt Lake Tribune summarized the exchange — “A popular Utah author criticized how FanX has responded to harassment complaints. It invited her to ‘sit this one out’ and published her private email.”.
Best-selling author Shannon Hale and other writers, troubled by how FanX organizers have reacted to allegations that a recurring guest repeatedly touched a female author without her consent, have been considering whether to appear at the convention in September. On Monday, Hale wrote to co-founder Bryan Brandenburg about her continuing doubts.
Brandenburg responded in part: “Maybe it is best that you sit this one out and then wait to hear how it went. I don’t think there is anything we can say to convince you to come and quite frankly I’m not willing to try. I know in my heart that we take this seriously and I don’t think you get it. I have four daughters and I’ve been sensitive to these issues for decades, long before it became trendy with #metoo.”
Hale took a screenshot of the reply and posted it to Twitter, where it drew dozens of furious responses — further fueling debate over the convention’s attempts to develop and promote a new anti-harassment policy while defending what Brandenburg describes as a fun environment of touch.
“John Barrowman will gladly hold your buttocks in your Photo Op. … Stephen Amell will hug you tight at his signing booth,” he assured fans on Facebook last week, while sharing the new policy.
By changing the subject to touch explicitly requested by fans, Hale said, FanX organizers are blurring the conversation about consent and minimizing women’s experiences of harassment. FanX should work on building a culture that gives guests confidence that harassment is not tolerated — but it’s doing the opposite, she said.
On Monday, FanX’s official account tweeted an image of the email Hale had sent to them, including her private email address. It later deleted the post.
Another good resource for this story is Ally Condie’s Twitter thread, which includes analysis, screencaps, and links to articles. The thread starts here:
For months, authors have been asking for a better sexual harassment policy from @fanxsaltlake. What happened publicly today on twitter is an indication of how women have been treated privately by those running this con. https://t.co/lJeYb30dC9
— Ally Condie (@allycondie) May 21, 2018
Her thread includes these comments:
I can't stress enough how many private emails were sent, by many people, and how much we did NOT want this to go so badly. We're tired. We want to write our books and go to public events and not be touched and harassed. That is all. Please.
— Ally Condie (@allycondie) May 21, 2018
Bryan Brandenburg has now posted an apology on Facebook (May 21):
I made multiple mistakes in handling the report of harassment at our event. I was insensitive to people that were communicating to me about this issue. It was me and me alone that responded to one of the people involved and I handled it terribly. I am so sorry. I wish I could take it back but I can’t. I was wrong, I made more than one mistake, and it was a very painful lesson. I’m ashamed that I didn’t handle it better and I hope that I can be forgiven. I’m so sorry that I came across like I did. Please forgive me.
All day authors have been tweeting support for Shannon Hale. (Most of these are Twitter threads which can be accessed by clicking on the timestamp.)
Utah author Howard Tayler supports the grievances:
It's just empty words when a convention claims zero tolerance for harassment, but then protects the rich and powerful while doxxing victims.
And by "empty words" I mean "absolute hypocrisy," and "dangerously misleading."
— Howard Tayler (@howardtayler) May 21, 2018
Justine Larbalestier empathized —
All while displaying their utter contempt for "trendy" complainers.
Got news for you, bro, some of us have been fighting your ilk for decades. We won't sit.
— Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm) May 21, 2018
Author Brendan Reichs opined that the convention had failed to live up to the confidentiality promised by its new anti-harassment policy.
Here’s the confidentiality section in the new FanX harassment policy. As a protection it’s disappointingly weak to begin with—“legitimate business interest?”—yet @haleshannon had a private email REGARDING A HARASSMENT COMPLAINT published with clear identifying info. On Twitter. pic.twitter.com/qQo5Rgs9u5
— Brendan Reichs (@BrendanReichs) May 21, 2018
The section of the “FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention™ Anti-Harassment Policy” Reichs has in mind says —
FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention will make every reasonable effort to protect the confidentiality of all parties involved in investigations of alleged harassment, intimidation, or discrimination. However, confidentiality is not absolute, and those with a legitimate business reason to know and be informed of the allegations will be informed. All parties in the investigation should treat the matter with discretion and respect for the reputations of all involved.
The FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention Anti-Harassment policy prohibits retaliation against any member of the community for reporting harassment, intimidation, or discrimination. The sanctions for retaliation are the same as sanctions for any other form of harassment listed here.
And Reichs is among those who have cancelled their plans to appear at the con.
So is Gwenda Bond:
I am VERY disappointed to hear this and not be attending FanX/Salt Lake Comic Con again until or unless people are controlling the con who care about harassment and women/NB/queer people's safety (+ respect people like Shannon, always trying to make a community better). https://t.co/fR96UV4wER
— Gwenda Bond (@Gwenda) May 21, 2018
Dan Wells issued a warning:
I just want to say, out in public where @fanxsaltlake can see it, that if they don’t do something about their harassment issues soon I am going to stay far away, and I’m going to encourage my fans to do the same. By supporting harassers they make the event unsafe for guests.
— Dan Wells (@TheDanWells) May 21, 2018
Daniel Jose Older wrote:
— Daniel José Older (@djolder) May 21, 2018
As noted above, the convention has deleted the post containing Hale’s email address.
Update 05/21/2018: FanX has posted an expanded apology: “A Message from Bryan Brandenburg”.
I would like to apologize to Shannon Hale for the events that happened on Twitter today, and my overall handling of the reports of harassment from our last event. In an overly emotional state, I took to social media in response to a tweet that quoted an email exchange between the two of us. In doing so, I didn’t notice my screenshot still contained her personal email. This was overlooked and not meant maliciously.
I felt my comments were taken out of context from the original email exchange, and I responded hastily and inappropriately. I deeply regret sending the original email and the tweets that followed.
In response to my poorly chosen words about the #metoo movement being “trendy”, I came off insensitive to people’s pain, and I am sorry. After today’s events, I admit that I am not fully aware or educated about the importance of the #metoo movement, and this is something I am actively working to change. I need to improve on listening and making people feel validated.
Everyone working at FanX, including Dan and I, are still learning how to communicate about this serious and very important topic and to understand the sensitivity and different perspectives that come along with it. As a team, we want to learn how to do better.
Moving forward, our goal is to create a safe environment for everyone. Training for staff will happen within the next 90 days, so we are equipped to handle sexual harassment and assault reports. Our new harassment policy now includes instructions on how to report an incident anonymously or in person. It also clearly states the sanctions that will be taken when a report comes in.
The harassment policy also includes more defined behavior expectations for our attendees, guests, agents, cosplayers, panelists, moderators, staff, vendors, vendor models, and volunteers. Consent is key. These improvements would not have happened without your voice.