Chicon 8 Reveals Anonymous Death Threats Were Made Against Two Program Participants

The Chicon 8 committee stated today that prior to the 2022 Worldcon they received threats to murder two program participants, one of whom has gone public.

Last week, shortly before the start of the convention, Chicon 8 received an anonymous email in which the sender used hateful language and threatened to come to the convention and murder two of our program participants. We worked very closely with hotel security and cooperated with all law enforcement agencies. We also worked with both of the participants on planning for their safety and comfort during Chicon 8.

The Chair of Chicon 8 would like to thank convention staff, hotel staff, law enforcement, and the two participants for their cooperation and their responses to the situation. One of the participants, Mr. Patrick Tomlinson, has chosen to also make a public statement, and we thank him for keeping us apprised.

Patrick Tomlinson has been subjected to a huge, intrusive and sometimes violent harassment campaign for some time. Tomlinson’s statement on Twitter starts here. There are 16 tweets altogether – here are some excerpts.

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29 thoughts on “Chicon 8 Reveals Anonymous Death Threats Were Made Against Two Program Participants

  1. Imagine being someone whose life is so sad and pathetic and empty that you have nothing better to do than spend time harassing other people. 🙄

  2. What on earth did PST ever do to have attracted this kind of persistent, focused harassment? (Not meaning that in a “blame the victim” kind of way, just “why on earth him??”)

  3. Elusis on September 8, 2022 at 5:01 pm said:

    What on earth did PST ever do to have attracted this kind of persistent, focused harassment? (Not meaning that in a “blame the victim” kind of way, just “why on earth him??”)

    There is a detailed story there that Tomlison has laid out before on how this all started but it is essentially random. He annoyed some people and those people have harassed him ever since and if he reacts in any way then they take that as an escalation of hostilities and if he doesn’t react they take that as an incentive to escalate hostilities until he does react.

  4. Courts and authorities effectively enable these harassers in Tomlinson’s case. Basically no action taken, which of course encourages them.

  5. Doxxing, cyberstalking, and this kind of harassment is wrong and should be prosecuted. It is not free speech.

  6. @CF – that’s monstrous. I was seized with helpless terror just reading some of those threads. I can’t imagine living it – what a horror movie.

  7. Of course this must be taken seriously, and so I’m glad Chicon 8 did, and treated this with discretion and intelligence. People who do this should be locked away, full stop.

    At the same time, I belly-laughed upon seeing that bit about “fully loaded AR-15 pistol”. Dude, AR-15 pistol?

    Yes, such things certainly do exist, but are minimum 7″ long, cost $500 and up, and are not exactly unobtrusive.

  8. What on earth did PST ever do to have attracted this kind of persistent, focused harassment?

    I think that some members of an Opie and Anthony subreddit blamed him for it being taken offline. He had chided Anthony on Twitter in 2017 to honor a bet and pay him about Trump committing treason. This brought Tomlinson to the attention of that subreddit, angry messages full of meaningless Internet pugnacity were exchanged, he got doxxed, the subreddit was banned and it proceeded from there.

    But offering any explanation makes it sound like there’s a rational reason this began happening to him. There isn’t. No one should be treated like this.

  9. @Rick Moen

    At the same time, I belly-laughed upon seeing that bit about “fully loaded AR-15 pistol”. Dude, AR-15 pistol?

    I don’t see why you think this is funny. It’s just as lethal as any other semi-automatic firearm.

  10. @bill

    I could be wrong, but I think Rick was referring to the idea of concealing it – which the anonymous coward claimed to have done – not the gun itself or whether it was capable of killing people.

  11. Absolutely appalling. Glad it’s apparently just masturbatory bullsh*t, but even so–absolutely disgusting & inexcusable. Very glad no one has been hurt, and that Chicon 8 and other parties have handled these grotesque threats in a serious way.

  12. @Meredith — An obvious solution is to put it in a book bag and cover it with a t-shirt or something like that. But an AR-15 pistol, while large for a pistol, can certainly be strapped to one’s chest or back and covered with loose-fitting clothing.
    (especially in an environment where costumes would not be unusual)

  13. They have sent pictures of cell phone shots showing that members of this community WERE present at the convention and stalking people, especially Patrick. I am very glad, especially since I am one of their favorite secondary targets, that is all they did.

  14. Not a first, for the record. The 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix, AZ, Iguanacon, didn’t even count how many death threats Harlan Ellison and the committee both received in the months leading up to the convention over Harlan and the committee’s support of the NOW boycott of Arizona and being loudly pro-ERA.

    I did have the Phoenix police come out on Monday morning to have a bored sergeant and dog from the bomb squad search Harlan’s EV; we did take it that seriously.

    And in 1982, at Chicon IV, where I was Director of Operations, we had bomb threats telephoned to the Ops HQ. We did notify police and Tom Whitmore and I spent some time walking the entire convention public areas looking for any abandoned packages. I don’t recall any specific cause being claimed by the threatening calls.

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  16. I appreciate @Meredith citing one obvious reason for thinking the “AR-15 pistol” claim was (in retrospect, and in the way stated) amusing.

    Listen, I don’t wish to give offence to anyone, obviously, and the most important thing, in this discussion, to stress is that anything like this threatening behaviour is unacceptable criminal conduct that needs to be tracked down and the perp incarcerated. Which matter I am glad is being taken seriously. That is very much no joke.

    At the same time, those of us who do happen to have some knowledge of firearms ought to be able to spot why the alleged type of weapon cited would be a ludicrous and unlikely choice, in that context — another reason why the (IMO, doubtful and almost certainly fraudulent) claim was IMO amusing. (I’ll not detail more about specifically why, for lots of reasons, including not wishing to give productivity tips to any dangerously insane people.)

    For obvious reasons, this whole matter is quite touchy (and, I say again, a serious matter). For people who for whatever reason do not find any cause for amusement, I understand, and hope you don’t mind that I find humour in one detail of it.

  17. An AR-15 style pistol was used in the 2021 mass shooting in Boulder. The gun is no joke.

    This situation really could use a dose of humor to lighten it up. But the whole thing is a tragedy. If the perpetrators act on their threats they will end up dead or in jail, not counting any innocent lives they take with them. Even if they snap out of it, they will have to live with the fact of their shameful behavior, and feel regret for the rest of their lives.

  18. After we all worked hard to get him here, I am embarrassed that Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was one of the members of Chicon to get harassed and threatened. We truly must start punishing cyber threats as if they were made face-to-face.

  19. @Tom, indeed, a Ruger AR-556 (AR-15 style) pistol like the murderer used outside and then within that Boulder King Soopers supermarket is, of a certainty, no joke. And nobody would say so.

    One notes that the murderer in that case made absolutely no effort to be stealthy, pulling up to the parking lot with his enormous hand cannon and a much smaller 9mm weapon and started what ultimately became ten killings.

    The bushwah artist who threatened Mr. Tomlinson claimed to be wandering around the Hyatt Regency Chicago (a place I’ve just now spent a week in, for the third time) with a similar enormous hand cannon. Are you saying that sounds plausible to you, or in the alternative sounds like grandiose claptrap invented to impress people who’re ignorant about weapons? You decide. I could detail why I regard it as ludicrous, but, as I already said, I don’t care to give productivity tips to dangerously insane people.

  20. @bill:

    But an AR-15 pistol, while large for a pistol, can certainly be [snip]

    If we were in private discussion not accessible to net.random insane people, I would be able to detail for you why only an utter dumbass would use that weapon for that threat scenario. Moreover, I imagine you could probably predict, right now, to a great deal of certainty, exactly what I would tell you. So, it seems pointless, yet somehow also inevitable, to see someone such as your good self say “Well, but there are ways somebody could make it work.”

    Dude, there are ways someone could do it with a bazooka, too. That wouldn’t change either thing being an amusingly dumb idea, and a probable sign of fakery. Thus my point.

  21. @Rick: I really don’t want to judge the quality of death threats. It doesn’t take good planning, skill, or style to be a murderer. And if they’re just trolling and fantasizing about murder, bogus threats are still harmful.

  22. @Tom, we all agree that death threats, even completely vapourous threats, are criminal harm, highly illegal, and deserving of being punished to the full extent of the law.

    “Quality”? I didn’t say anything about quality — merely about seeming ineptitude and about the (IMO) likelihood that this was utter bushwah either from some loon who doesn’t understand weaponry or from some troll who thinks his audience doesn’t.

    Certainly, a genuine aspiring murderer could have roamed the endless corridors of the Hyatt Regency Chicago with a ludicrously poor choice of firearm. He/she could do so with a disguised mortar, disguised morningstar, or disguised gladius and Roman shield, too. Not only does it not take good planning, skill, or style to be a murderer, it doesn’t take basic competence or life skills, either. But that’s all irrelevant to my point. Which please see.

    Maybe I’ve spent too much time around SCA people. Or, here’s a thought, maybe more of fandom ought to. Why? Because knowledge.

  23. @Rick Moen — I guess we just disagree, then. There’s nothing amusing about any part of the situation, and I’m sorry for you that you find it so.
    Whether or not a gun is optimum for a particular murder isn’t a useful question. If it is enough gun, is.
    You said that an AR-15 pistol is a “ludicrous” choice, but it is far more rational and practical than an improvised gun made of pipe and electrical tape, fired by batteries and hot wires. And Shinzo Abe is dead nonetheless, and Japan mourns, and no one is belly-laughing at how Tetsuya Yamagami isn’t very good at picking firearms.

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