2015 Smofcon Goes To Fort Worth

Smofcon 33 will be held in Fort Worth, TX from December 4-6, 2015 at the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa.

The Texas bid was selected over rival Colorado Springs by a vote of attendees during last night’s Fannish Inquisition session at Smofcon 32 in Manhattan Beach.

The FAQ from the Fort Worth bid (PDF file) has more details about their plans.

While there were other significant differences between the bids that factored into the outcome, attracting the most discussion was Colorado Springs’ assertion that they would not have a formal code of conduct. They considered the core attendees of the con to be trustworthy, having known each other for decades. And they stood by their position at the Fannish Inquisition, with MEM Morman’s valedictory on the subject being, “If you need to call the police, you call the police.”

The two main arguments advanced why Smofcon should follow the trend to have a code of conduct or antiharassment policy were (1) a convention for conrunners should serve as a model, therefore have a policy, and (2) Smofcon actually has many members who have joined fandom more recently, and wants to attract others who haven’t attended before, calling into question the assumption that this group is so homogenous it wouldn’t need to use that conrunning tool.

For photos of what’s been happening this weekend, see Crystal Huff’s Twitter feed or search #smofcon.

6 thoughts on “2015 Smofcon Goes To Fort Worth

  1. “If you need to call the police, you call the police.”

    Oh please, common sense? It’ll never work…

  2. Ed, I’m not sure if I would necessarily call it common sense. Obviously, you can always call the police. However, that becomes a lot less useful when you, the accused, and every witness is going to be leaving to all different states/countries within a couple days, the behavior they are trying to address won’t leave enough evidence to reach the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard, and a conviction would result in a miniscule sentence. All add up to uninterested police.

    Which isn’t to say that creating an extra-judicial punishment system usually run by people with no judicial experience and a lower than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard isn’t itself problematic.

    However, the biggest question in my mind is how in the world could such a policy work in all but the most cut and dry cases? By the time you collect witness statements, get both sides of the story, check with the hotel to see if they have footage, find a time that works for everyone on the tribunal (which will be roughly never if the con is going on and the tribunal is made up of ConCom), deliberate, and deliver the verdict, the con will already be over. Which makes the verdict useless because Smofcon 33 has absolutely no standing to ban/kick off the committee/set restrictions/tell security to keep an eye on a person going to Smofcon 34.

  3. My biggest objection to fan run ‘investigations’ of harassment is that damn few fans are qualified, under the US legal system, to investigate this sort of thing. They are as likely to muck things up as do any good.

    “Which isn’t to say that creating an extra-judicial punishment system usually run by people with no judicial experience and a lower than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard isn’t itself problematic.”

    Somewhere, there’s a real lawyer, with real training, who will someday destroy a convention and financially ruin a ConComm because a Committee will do exactly that.

  4. Can a convention committee decide who to sell a membership to? Can a convention committee revoke an existing membership? Can a convention committee decide who to admit to the function space it has contracted for? I believe the answer to all three is yes, until someone convinces me otherwise. What is being characterized here as “punishment” is merely the exercise of existing rights. Convention committees are controlling their space, not sending anyone to jail or making them pay fines.

    Once that is understood, there is no reason to burden convention committees with an inapposite comparison to trained investigators who collect evidence in a manner that would permit a case to be taken forward to trial in a courtroom. That’s not the standard that should apply.

    Convention committees need a clear-sighted and fair process for listening to all sides of a complaint. Then they can make a decision whether a person will continue to be a member and allowed in their function space during their con.

    Admittedly there are some conrunners who think their policies should also control public spaces, even out on the sidewalks — good luck on that.

    Also, saying a committee is competent to decide who to let in their space says nothing as to whether the process will be smooth or fraught with controversy.

    I think the greatest risk in administering an antiharassment policy is that the committee might leak, or intentionally make public, statements about handling specific complaints that open the way to suits for slander or libel. Even if the statements happen to be true, truth is merely a defense, not something that immunizes people against being sued in the first place.

  5. Mike, I agree with you 100%. I just believe there are fans out there who have an expectation that a Committee should and must do more.

  6. We’re fools to think we can reproduce the whole legal system, and we shouldn’t try.

    We can, in the face of a mountain of evidence, act on that mountain of evidence. The change in convention climate that’s happening is removing the somebody-else’s-problem field from, in some cases decades-long, bad behavior that everybody knows about.

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