More About ArmadilloCon 41 Code of Conduct Violation

Yesterday the ArmadilloCon 41 committee published an “ArmadilloCon Incident Report” about their disposition of a code of conduct violation by “a program participant who had gone significantly off-topic on a panel subsequently laid hands on another attendee.”

K. Tempest Bradford, one of the convention’s Regional Guests, today wrote that she was on the panel and witnessed what happened there. Bradford also gives an account of the “laid hands on” part which she gathered secondhand. The thread starts here.

Update 08/09/2019: Bradford subsequently tweeted that her identification of the Twitter URL for Burkheart is wrong:

82 thoughts on “More About ArmadilloCon 41 Code of Conduct Violation

  1. It’s kind of a dick move, is it not, for a well-known professional to stoop to stereotyping when criticizing a panelist? Who’s got the power? Is it punching up, or punching down?

    Poor Beyonce. She wrote an interesting slam–with the good hair” complicates Becky–against a woman who did her wrong. Now it’s taken on a life of its own. It escaped into the real world and mated with Barbecue Becky. Becky with the good hair might’ve been at that barbecue. It could be how they met.

  2. @John, A black woman professional criticizing a white woman professional is not punching down.

    @Elana, thanks! I’m not much of a movie-goer because of my hearing, so I missed that.

  3. @John, unless K. Tempest happens to be a pen name* for Oprah, Beyoncé, or Michelle Obama, I cannot see how she could possibly be punching down on a white woman writer.

    *and now that I’ve considered it more, even if it is a pen name for one of those three it still woudln’t be punching down, because no one knows that.

  4. I guess I’m not offended by Becky in the same way that I’m not offended by being called a cracker. (Not that I’ve ever been seriously called cracker.) It’s not an epithet/stereotype/slur/whatever that has the same dehumanizing weight as “parallel” words that are flung at PoC. And if K Tempest Bradford ever has occasion to call me a Becky that’s not just a misunderstanding about my actual name, I will go off into a room by myself and think for a good long while.

  5. The way I took it was along the lines of –Yes, her name really is Becky. I’m not just calling her that.

    That’s how I interpreted it also.

  6. “You’re taking a position that disagrees with the definition quoted in the Wikipedia.”

    No. I am taking a position that disagrees with your interpretation of the Wikipedia entry. And I can’t understand the reasoning of your interpretation.

    I do not see “white supremacist” as a racial epithet. I do not see “white prejudiced woman” as a racial epithet.

  7. “It’s kind of a dick move, is it not, for a well-known professional to stoop to stereotyping when criticizing a panelist?”

    Is your argument that it is not ok to mention stereotypes in reference to people’s behaviour? Or only that authors shouldn’t?

  8. @Lenore Jones: “A black woman professional criticizing a white woman professional is not punching down.”

    How great does the power differential have to be before it’s punching down? I know who K Tempest Bradford is, and so does Wikipedia. The other person is little-enough known that Bradford fingered the wrong Becky in her initial tweet.

    One of those things is not like the other.

  9. @John A Arkansawyer: The “Becky” epithet applies to obnoxious behavior associated with white privilege. Calling out white privilege, mocking white privilege, is always punching up.

    And white as I am, I took that aside as “No, really! You can’t make this up!”

    I could easily argue that focusing on two words out of the entire account and derailing the conversation into what Bradford meant when she used them is itself a terrific example of white privilege. Policing what the black woman says and letting the white woman’s behavior fade into the background.

  10. I can’t see K Tempest Bradford as punching either up or down. Everything can’t be measured in strict hierarchies. Up skin colour, down less sales and fame. But the only thing I think is relevant is that she’s reacting against an abuser whose previous actions threatened a panel.

    I do think reacting against that is good, be it up or down.

  11. I really can’t see how terms recently developed to describe actual racist/toxic white privilege behavior, in response to far too many actual examples of it being deployed against black people engaging in ordinary, indeed wholesome and boring,behavior, can be called “racist,” when it’s being used to describe, hello, toxic white privilege behavior. In this case, insisting that righting from the perspective of an animal is relevant to a panel on writing from the perspective of people of different backgrounds, disrupting the panel in pursuit of that, and later committing assault. And yes, grabbing someone hard enough to hurt and not letting go when told to is unquestionably and unambiguously assault.

    Yet some people only want to talk about their strange claims that calling out this behavior and noting the irony of this person’s name actually being Becky is the real racism issue here.

    Why, it’s almost as if some people are saying it’s racist to call out racism.

  12. What I said is this sounds like a dick move. Maybe I’m wrong. Some of you are defending in depth someone who misidentified the person being slammed, and whose further knowledge of what happened after the panel is all secondhand. So maybe some of you are wrong.

    @Lis Carey: Given this panel description–“Going beyond Writing the Other, there are a lot of other perspectives besides race that can be explored. Should authors ask, am I the best person to write this story? Is that a fair question? How can we explore the ownership of experience?”–are you certain this is “actual racist/toxic white privilege behavior” and not simple cluelessness? I ask because that’s what the description of the panelist’s behavior at the panel sounds like to me–spectacular cluelessness. The assault later obviously isn’t justified, even if the woman who committed it did walk into a crowd who’d been talking smack about her.

  13. John A Arkansawyer on August 12, 2019 at 9:51 am said:
    I ask because that’s what the description of the panelist’s behavior at the panel sounds like to me–spectacular cluelessness. The assault later obviously isn’t justified, even if the woman who committed it did walk into a crowd who’d been talking smack about her.

    It’s worse than cluelessness. She should have realized when the panel started talking about viewpoints that it wasn’t going to be about writing horses.
    (If you weren’t there, you shouldn’t talk about what the group in the bar was saying.)

  14. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    @Lis Carey: Given this panel description–“Going beyond Writing the Other, there are a lot of other perspectives besides race that can be explored. Should authors ask, am I the best person to write this story? Is that a fair question? How can we explore the ownership of experience?”–are you certain this is “actual racist/toxic white privilege behavior” and not simple cluelessness? I ask because that’s what the description of the panelist’s behavior at the panel sounds like to me–spectacular cluelessness. The assault later obviously isn’t justified, even if the woman who committed it did walk into a crowd who’d been talking smack about her.

    Yes, John, I am sure that a white person, talking to a mixed audience and equating writing from the viewpoint of an animal with writing from the viewpoint of people with backgrounds different from ones own, and determinedly resisting all efforts to redirect them back to the intended topic of the panel, confronting a black woman in the audience (not Bradford, in case someone might be unclear on that point), and later assaulting that same audience member in a bar, is racism/toxic white privilege.

    And no, I’m not going to accept your invite redefine people on or in attendance at the panel talking about their frustrating experience with her later, in a bar, as “a crowd talking smack about her.”

    Act like a jerk, and people will talk about your jerkish behavior.

    Everything you’ve said is an attempt to minimize the offensiveness of her behavior, while setting an absurd standard of passivity and “civility” for Bradford and everyone else there.

    Maybe you have never seen your own privilege in action. Let me tell you a story.

    A couple of years ago, I was staying with friends in NH while I was homeless. Because one of them had to sleep days to work nights with dangerous machinery, I had to be out of the house all day. It was winter, and this meant I was driving back in the dark.

    One evening, I was really stressed and exhausted, struggling to be alert, and frustrated that my headlights just didn’t seem to be as bright as they used to be. I served to avoid a car that was suddenly very close; if I hadn’t succeeded, that would have been a head-on collision. Scary.

    A short while later, I was pulled over by a police car. The car I’d nearly hit was a cop on his way to work.

    And as soon as I rolled down my window, the cop who pulled me over was asking if I was okay.

    Several people, not just the cop I nearly hit, had reported my “erratic” driving.

    The cops who stopped me asked about alcohol, medications, the erratic driving, the fact that my headlights really were quite dim, because they were scratched and worn from age. (My car was, at this point, nearly old enough to vote.) They asked about medical conditions. I explained my circumstances.

    No breathalyzer. No search of me or my car. Just where was I staying, would there be someone there, etc. They called a tow truck to get me and my car home, and told me a few places I could get my headlights ground to smooth and clear again, for not too much.

    I was left feeling that that part of NH had the nicest cops in the world.

    I was a small, white, female senior citizen.

    Imagine a young, black man in the same circumstances. Calculate his odds of survival even if he was every bit as compliant as me, and didn’t have any young male attitude at all.

    And yes, black women are more likely to survive such encounters than black men, but they’re also a lot more likely to get roughed up than whites are.

    That’s why no, it’s not exactly the same thing, when white people get called out for bad behavior as when black people get called out for what some white person harbors a dread fear might be bad behavior despite a lack of any evidence. Pushing back against the racism that makes ordinary daily life dramatically more stressful for the people targeted by it, is not, itself, racist, or even “dickish.” It’s human beings refusing to be doormats anymore.

  15. I could easily argue that focusing on two words out of the entire account and derailing the conversation into what Bradford meant when she used them is itself a terrific example of white privilege. Policing what the black woman says and letting the white woman’s behavior fade into the background.

    Rail, well said.

  16. I think the comments she made prior to grabbing the other woman’s arm show she wasn’t as clueless about the panel’s topic as it appeared. Granted that is a secondhand account.

  17. @John A Arkansawyer: I’m not defending Bradford in depth. I pointed out that there’s a nasty tactic being used here to divert from, distract from, and minimize Burkheart’s bad behavior.

    Spectacular cluelessness isn’t enough to cause this.

    Spectacular cluelessness plus amazing levels of arrogance, I might give you, since the cluelessness would have to be pretty high to not know that Writing the Other is a book and a regularly-offered class/seminar that is focused on writing people of other cultures and sub-cultures without resorting to stereotypes.

    I come into a panel that I know is intended to be about writing people, and the panel gets taken over by someone who wants to talk about writing animals. Yeah, I’m going to be deeply offended. There is no way those two subjects should be confused.

    We don’t normally have a problem with calling out people who try to take control of a panel and turn it into something different. What’s different here?

  18. I highly doubt the discussion after the panel could be characterized as “talking smack.” I would imagine it was more along the lines of “Did that actually just happen? Did my ears actually hear what I thought they heard?” Especially since everyone was trying to ignore the elephant in the room and keep on topic while it was happening.

  19. Rail:

    Spectacular cluelessness plus amazing levels of arrogance, I might give you, since the cluelessness would have to be pretty high to not know that Writing the Other is a book and a regularly-offered class/seminar that is focused on writing people of other cultures and sub-cultures without resorting to stereotypes.

    I am, then, spectacularly clueless and have an amazing level of arrogance, because until you told me this, I had no idea that was so. On looking it up, I do recall having heard of the book. I suppose I took the capital letters in the panel description to be emphasis rather than a book title.

    We don’t normally have a problem with calling out people who try to take control of a panel and turn it into something different. What’s different here?

    From the description Bradford gave, no one got around to criticizing the rogue panelist till after, over drinks in the bar. I might not’ve directly told the rogue panelist she was way off-topic, either, but I’d like to think I’d’ve then had the grace not to criticize too harshly something I thought not worth my time to correct.

    Would I have talked smack about her myself? Probably yeah. Almost certainly yeah. I prefer stories where I’m the butt of the joke, but that’d be a hard one to pass up.

    @Lis Carey:

    Yes, John, I am sure…

    And you might be right. It might also be that this is someone socially clumsy and really into what they are into. Maybe someone who reads a description wishfully. Maybe someone who, by the end of the panel, realized underneath it all that she’d made a fool of herself. I did almost exactly that once myself. Very embarrassing.

    Which of course is no excuse for grabbing someone’s arm and getting in their face.

  20. The assault later obviously isn’t justified, even if the woman who committed it did walk into a crowd who’d been talking smack about her.

    Sigh.

    I really didn’t want to get into this, but…

    Not what happened.

    Not remotely.

    The victim was not in a crowd talking smack. She was off to the side when Becky approached her with intent and focus. For whatever reason, Becky decided that this young woman was going to understand what her intentions on the panel were and give her redemption. I was having another conversation nearby and saw Becky’s approach, which set off a yellow flag for me (and, in hindsight, should have set off a red flag.) After a few minutes it was clear that the victim was in distress and trying to extricate herself, which Becky would not let her do. I stepped in with two other people, and even then, it took time and effort. Like I said earlier: Tempest’s account was fully accurate.

    To even try to craft excuses for Becky of “what she walked into” is absurd. She screwed up badly on a panel, proceeded to get VERY intoxicated, and then targeted a member of the audience who stood out. Nothing less than that.

  21. @Marshall Ryan Maresca: Thank you for that correction. It wasn’t clear from Bradford’s account exactly how that happened. I probably shouldn’t’ve made that addendum, but it did get the point clarified so that even I can understand it, so perhaps it’s just as well that I did.

  22. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    From the description Bradford gave, no one got around to criticizing the rogue panelist till after, over drinks in the bar. I might not’ve directly told the rogue panelist she was way off-topic, either, but I’d like to think I’d’ve then had the grace not to criticize too harshly something I thought not worth my time to correct.

    Apparently you didn’t bother to read Bradford’s whole Twitter thread, She describes the rest of the panel trying to reassert control of it without directly confronting Becky. Not directly confronting her may have been a mistake, but they were trying to have the scheduled panel, not Becky’s unauthorized substitution panel.

    If you’re saying Bradford’s later expression of frustration was inappropriate because she did not, in your opinion, use the right tactics to control the panel, well, all I can say is, isn’t that cute.

    And you might be right. It might also be that this is someone socially clumsy and really into what they are into. Maybe someone who reads a description wishfully. Maybe someone who, by the end of the panel, realized underneath it all that she’d made a fool of herself. I did almost exactly that once myself. Very embarrassing.

    No. You keep making excuses for her bad behavior. And at no point does she seem to have shown the slightest awareness, at the end of or after the panel, that she’d made a fool of herself.

    Which of course is no excuse for grabbing someone’s arm and getting in their face.

    And yet. You keep not so subtly suggesting we should understand how provoked she was by people “talking smack about her.” Which is not how I’d describe a group of people talking about a really frustrating experience with someone, but you do you.

    But the young woman he assaulted was sitting apart from that group. So, no.

    Becky behaved really badly, during the panel, and afterwards. And no, you don’t get to decide how the people who were their understood her bad behavior, or how they’re allowed to talk about it.

    Which, yes, is what you’ve been trying to do, all through this discussion.

  23. This whole thread is a classic study of “Why didn’t they speak up?” In this case, even just the messenger is being questioned – mostly by men, probably “old white men” – if I need to state the obvious. The whole post turns on its head and focuses the spotlight elsewhere. This is what I call “casual and possibly unintentional bullying and racism”. Believe the victims. We don’t blindly crucify the accused but we need to check our bias at the door.

  24. The violation report stands on its own. The twitter thread detracts from it.

    @Lis Carey:

    Apparently you didn’t bother to read Bradford’s whole Twitter thread, She describes the rest of the panel trying to reassert control of it without directly confronting Becky. Not directly confronting her may have been a mistake, but they were trying to have the scheduled panel, not Becky’s unauthorized substitution panel.

    I did read that. Rather than treating Becky like a responsible human being who might have misunderstood what the panel was about and letting her correct her error, they treated her with contempt and let her continue making a fool of herself while they worked around her. That’s praiseworthy? I wouldn’t like it if it were done to me.

    I mean, if the book “Writing the Other” is supposed to be part of the topic, a direct question to her about the book might’ve done some good. And maybe not.

  25. John, remember the first rule of holes? You’re deep in that hole, and you’re still digging.

  26. John A Arkansawyer:

    “Maybe I’m wrong. Some of you are defending in depth someone who misidentified the person being slammed, and whose further knowledge of what happened after the panel is all secondhand. So maybe some of you are wrong.”

    I think this is a very strange passage. She was a first hand witness of the panel discussion. And while she wasn’t a witness to the second incident, the convention deemed it serious enough to ban the person involved from the convention.

    To then make a misidentified twitter handle – of course a bad thing, but corrected in a later tweet – the focus of the discussion seems more like derailing than seriously engaging in discussion.

    Marshall Ryan Maresca:

    Thank you for your comment.

  27. @John A Arkansawyer: I dunno, John, are you a writer who would be expected to have heard of one of the most-talked-about subjects in writing fora and on writing podcasts of the last few years? If not, then you don’t get slapped with cluelessness for not knowing about it, though I would hope that if you were on a panel, you’d spend five minutes looking into what’s been said on the subject elsewhere.

    The arrogance comes from her refusing to take the hint that she was going off the rails. And, yes, that’s privilege, that she’s expecting other people to follow her lead instead of realizing that they have agendas of their own.

    As for not directly confronting Burkheart, you’re missing how much of that is directly connected to privilege. A white man could probably have successfully confronted her. A white woman might have been able to, depending on the body language she was giving off when they initially met. If Bradford had confronted her, the entire narrative about the incident would have been that Bradford had gone in there looking for a fight and ruined it for everyone. Burkheart would still get excuses made for her.

  28. I haven’t seen anybody mention this, but obviously the con programming dept. started the snowball rolling by putting Becky on the panel. Either that or not being clear whether the panel was just about the book or whether the topic was broader. I haven’t seen the panel description yet.

  29. I think the way Becky fixated on the assumption that the audience member had implied that Becky shouldn’t write about certain characters shows that she was not really clueless about what the panel was meant to be about.

    K.T. Bradford talks about how she felt trying to do anything more direct during the panel would have derailed things further.

  30. @Jeff Jones: how clueful should program management expect participants not to be? I’ve never been to such a panel, because all the descriptions I’ve seen have sounded like they were intended for writers (either present or would-be) more than non-writing fans, but I’ve heard about the topic many times; couldn’t they expect a writer to have heard of and know the scope of the topic, or even to twig that nobody cares about writing from the viewpoints of entities that don’t have the sentience to be hurt by misrepresentation?

  31. @Jeff
    It’s quite possible she volunteered for the panel based on the preliminary program.

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