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.

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465 thoughts on “Del Arroz Files Suit Against Worldcon 76

  1. @Rev. Bob —

    Forget the B in “subtle.” Around these parts, we frequently don’t pronounce either B in “probably” (which only has two syllables).

    If you’re going to get into the issue of dropping syllables around these parts —

    my third grade teacher assured me — **in the classroom, while specifically teaching us syllables** — that the word “lion” only had one syllable: “Laaaaan”.


  2. I’ve heard a third pronunciation of ‘caramel’. In New York City it’s pronounced as three syllables, but with a strong accent on the third syllable: care-a-MEL instead of CARE-a-mel. Here in the Midwest the situation is hopeless. ‘Karmel’, which used to be the carnival food booth spelling, is now the normal spelling.

  3. I just had my New Englander husband say “marry merry Mary.” I could just barely hear a difference. He definitely feels they’re distinct though. I think my pronunciation of all 3 matches his marry.

    I’m more accustomed to salve as verb meaning to soothe pronounced with the L. I think I would pronounce the noun without, but that’s probably (both b’s!) not a word I’d use. And pretty much everything Cassy B said. 🙂

  4. The weird part is being able to hear but not reproduce a difference. I was just in Montreal, and the recorded “next stop” announcements on the bus pronounce the first syllable of “Harvard” in a way that is slightly different from what I’d say, and very different from what people who grew up in/around Boston say.

    (I pronounce merry, marry, and Mary differently, but fold “Carey” in with “carry,” rather than rhyming it with “airy”: the one person I’ve actually known with that name was from Virginia, and that’s how he pronounces it.)

  5. A book on English language usage that I read a long time ago spoke disparagingly of mid-westerners who pronounced merry, marry, and Mary all the same. Some years later, I was having lunch and generally catching up with the man who had been associate pastor at our church when I was in Jr. High, and had now returned as senior pastor. He was originally from New Jersey (and at least when we were both younger had a significant accent that would come through occasionally). I told him about the book I had once read that “pretended merry, marry and Mary had different pronunciations.” He took a moment, thought back to his youth, and gave me three different pronunciations.

    The one I definitely recall is Mary, pronounced “May-ree”. My grandmother, cousin, and niece all had the name, and I had never once heard it pronounced that way. I have since noticed it in two movies. Jimmy Cagney as George M Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, presenting the song “Her Name was Mary”. The other is in “1776” when referring to the delegate from Mary-land.

  6. Linus Torvalds on the pronunciation of his name and the operating system kernel that bears his name:

  7. Cassy B on April 22, 2018 at 4:31 am said:

    One website asked for “first address” for a security question. I put it in and was told it was invalid; no character could repeat more than twice. Which boggled my mind; have they never SEEN addresses?

    I will often get told my last name is invalid by forms which only accept alphabetical characters. Which boggles my mind. Forget about my situation; have they never met an O’Malley or a D’Angelo? Often compounding the error is a form validation system that won’t allow more than one letter to be capitalized. I think companies that design forms like this need to at the very least ensure all their employees’ actual data would be accepted. Shouldn’t be hard to automate that test. Would only work with a big enough employee population, of course.

    Buying airline tickets often involves trying to reconcile the instruction “Ensure your name entry here matches your name on your credit card EXACTLY” with a form restricted exclusively to alphabetical characters in the name fields. Usually they don’t really mean it. But once in awhile they do, and I’ve had to abandon the web form and call up customer service to complete the purchase. I make sure to tell them why, but I’ll be very surprised if the complaint ever made it down to the web developers in charge of the purchase form.

  8. Forget about my situation; have they never met an O’Malley or a D’Angelo?

    I’ve seen those with blanks where the apostrophe would go, because whoever set up the system didn’t think about punctuation within names. (If they did it right, their search engine won’t miss, but I never bet on that. “Hello, Ancestry?”)

  9. @Soon Lee thank you for the article. It’s great. I’ve bookmarked as sometime in the next year I’ll be hiring someone to build a database for my upcoming business and names are important.

  10. SL: Is it time to trot out, Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names? Why I believe it is.

    Excellent article, which I have forwarded off to work for pubbing in a Slack channel tomorrow.

    At work, we have these issues in spades because each person has at least one other name, their avatar name, and they can have as many “alts” as they like. Not only do we have to account for all kinds of language spellings, but people doing things like putting emoji in their name.

    I’m also amused by the realization that your initials are the same as the initials of the product I work on.

  11. Pingback: Loose-leaf Links #60 | Earl Grey Editing

  12. I aspirate the h in which, which means I miss certain puns. I agree on on savv/salve for the noun and verb (but see below), but use those words very little – I think I say cream – it doesn’t come up much. I say vayss rather than vahz. I pronounce aunt like ant (with a very high A) when it precedes a name, except if the word great comes before it, in which case I revert to my general pronunciation of ahnt. Except the British in-laws who sometimes get to be anties or ahnties. (I have had a lot of influences on my speech, which results in confusing usages like this.) I pronounce their, they’re, and there the same way, but your and you’re differently, especially when I’m emphasizing them. Probably often gets compressed to the point there’s no airspace between the two Bs, which instead sort of elongates into a lengthier than usual B. I alternate between green onion and scallion but am comfortable with spring onion instead. I say green beans (or wax beans for the yellow ones) but my father says snap beans. I pronounce the L in soldier, but not salmon, and used to pronounce it in yolk until I realized no one else did (took getting hearing aids to distinguish that). I think the L in valve is only half there – it’s more a modified vowel than anything. Like va-uv or vowv, with the tongue moving very slightly into L territory without actually articulating it. Probably the same on salve as a verb, actually. I say roof with a long oo, to rhyme with tool and soon (Hi, Soon Lee!). Whee!

  13. Oh, yeah — I’m “Ant” Laura to my brothers’ kids in Michigan, but “Ahnt” Laura to my brother-in-law’s son in Rhode Island.

  14. @Lenore —

    I pronounce the L in soldier, but not salmon, and used to pronounce it in yolk until I realized no one else did (took getting hearing aids to distinguish that).

    You remind me that one of my best friends growing up pronounced the “l” in both yolk and folk. Her parents moved around a lot, so I don’t know where she got that from.

  15. Whereas I pronounce only the L. Takes people a while to get used to knowing which one I’m saying. “What the L?” they ask me.

  16. @Soon Lee: LOL. I was especially amused by #31, since I found that the state unemployment system considers my name too obscene to be used as an ID.

  17. I don’t pronounce the L in halve or calve, no, but salve is *supposed to rhyme with valve*. I have pronounced the b in subtle, but only when being intentionally silly. Like the k in knife. I do usually pronounce both Bs in probably, but the vowel between them is severely shrunken.

    AS with some others, there are some differing pronunciations I can hear when others do them but which aren’t natural to me.

    Cot/caught and bot/bought are for me either a match or very similar, but I can hear the difference in others.

    People treat hyphenated names as rare or new, but they’ve been around for a couple of centuries even in England — whose name conventions tend to be the ones most often used as the standard in the English speaking world — and probably longer.

  18. For me cot & caught are quite different. Attempting to spell as they sound: cot = caht, caught = cawt. For those for whom it’s the same, does it sound like one of those or something else again?

  19. @Laura —

    Errrr, ummmm, I guess they all sound like caht caht baht baht. I guess. They sound like the “bot” in robot. Like a bot fly. 🙂 Rot, bot, cot, fought, dreadnought, got, hot, haughty, lot, not, naughty, naught, pot, sought, sot, taught, tot.

  20. LOL… alright..all the “ot” words are short o sounds for me, and all the double vowel + “ght” words sound like “awe”.

  21. @Contrarius: You say all those words with the same vowel sound?! OMG, this puts all your comments in a new, somewhat-unintelligible light. 😉

  22. Caht and cawt are different?

    (I’ve actually lived in NJ long enough to imagine what you mean by those sounds, but I am not sure, and I wouldn’t naturally pronounce those differently. If I am right with my guess, I only use the caht sound and not the cawt sound, at least consciously, unless I am trying to put on a local accent.)

  23. @Lenore Jones, you and I have a very, very similar dialect.

    @Laura, I agree; “-aught” is “-awt” and “-ot” is “aht”.

    Someone should link to THIS POEM. (The pronunciations implicit in the poem (by what words are rhymed/contrasted with which) are actually pretty much my native dialect.)

  24. Reading all these comments has me unable to pronounce words anymore. I’m sending myself to sit in the corner until I recover from so much nonsense. 😉

  25. One of the significant problems with the English language is that “read” rhymes with “lead,” but by contrast, “read” rhymes with “lead.”

  26. Rev. Bob: One of the significant problems with the English language is that “read” rhymes with “lead,” but by contrast, “read” rhymes with “lead.”

    Dang. That’s so.

    How do you ever keep them straight?

  27. Rev. Bob: One of the significant problems with the English language is that “read” rhymes with “lead,” but by contrast, “read” rhymes with “lead.”

    That’s one my bigger bugaboos, almost as much as the people who use “pouring” when they mean “poring”: the people who use “lead” when they mean “led”. I’ve seen it several times in the last year in SFF books from mainstream publishers, which I find kind of shocking.

  28. @OGH: “How do you ever keep them straight?”

    I refuse to impose sexual orientations on words. They have the same right to self-identify as I do.


    Yes! Pore/pour is also one of my pet peeves, even above rein/reign/rain. (That third homophone is no accident. I actually saw a self-published book describe someone as “taking the rains.” Double facepalm all the way…)

  29. It may be time to point people to The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité – a poem that starts with

    Dearest creature in creation
    Studying English pronunciation,
    I will teach you in my verse
    Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

    I will keep you, Susy, busy,
    Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
    Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
    Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

    … and continues on from there.

    There are several renditions on Youtube

    // Christian

  30. I will often get told my last name is invalid by forms which only accept alphabetical characters. Which boggles my mind. Forget about my situation; have they never met an O’Malley or a D’Angelo?

    Recently saw on Twitter someone pointing out a governmental site that wouldn’t accept names with apostrophes. Which would be bad enough, but it was Irish.

  31. I actually saw a self-published book describe someone as “taking the rains.”

    A poetic way of saying they’d forgotten their umbrella.

  32. I hope that in the next aSoIaF book GRRM will explain the equestrian origins of the Reins of Castamere.

  33. Speaking of pore/pour, I found a weird learned-by-variant-sound in a 1985 mystery (just read): someone found with traces of cadmium and “berium” on their hands. (Police said this was from firing a gun; he said it was because he was an artist.) So how do people pronounce the element that you drink (or worse) to make your guts show up better on an x-ray?

    @James Moar: sounds like somebody bought off-the-shelf software off the wrong shelf….

  34. “taking the rains”

    Am I the only one getting earwomed with “Africa” by Toto?

    There’s nothing that a hundred Scrolls or more could ever do,
    I take the reins down in San Joaquin
    Gonna find some time to write the filks I never had

  35. Chip Hitchcock, I say “BAYR-ee-um” but I am not a chemist. “bayr” rhymes with “bear” and “air”. (Given the unexpected vowel shifts in this conversation, I think it’s good to give more than one “rhymes-with” example; someone is bound to jump in and say, “but “bear” doesn’t rhyme with “air”… <grin>)

  36. “BAYR-ee-um” is about right, a sound burned forever into my memory, when I was a child and had a barium enema, because my bowels were a source of fascination to my doctors.

  37. Consulting my reference for element names:

    There’s strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,
    And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium.

  38. Niall McAuley, not to mention

    There’s holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,
    And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium…

  39. Apparently there’s less than 30,000 people in the world with my last name. But add an “e” and the dratted thing becomes as common as dirt (which makes sense, as it’s the root of the word “Meadow”). I prefer to think that I’m descended from a bunch of tipsy monks rather than dirt-farmers, though.

    Thanks to Google. I’ve found two other people with my exact name and, tbh, that’s two more than I expected. One of them has been sitting on myname-com for YEARS, and I suppose she’s just as irritated that I own myname-net. I wonder how many visitors to her site are looking for an erstwhile cosplayer – and how many to mine are looking for a landscape designer…?

  40. @Kendall —

    @Contrarius: You say all those words with the same vowel sound?! OMG, this puts all your comments in a new, somewhat-unintelligible light. ?

    Are you trying to tell me that my comments weren’t unintelligible in the first place? Or is this new unintelligible light simply replacing the old, passé unintelligible light?


  41. @Christian Brunschen, that’s the poem Cassy B linked above, with attendant audiofiles.

    I noticed a couple of pronunciation differences in it which I suspect are American vs British:

    The reader pronounces ballet and toward with the stress on the first syllable. Pronunciations I’ve heard in the American regions I’ve lived in have the stress on the second syllable in each.

    The lines “haunt but aunt, Font, front, wont, want” revealed those vowel differences some say in cot and caught (I think those are the same vowels), which I can’t reliably reproduce, though I could hear they were different. Except front, which I say with a schwa.

    The reader also pronounced victual like vittle, which I had always assumed was a slang modification rather than a simple respelling. Neither is in my productive vocabulary, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard either said aloud before.

    She also said dost and doth (and constable) with what sounded like schwa sounds. I’ve always assumed those would be said more like dahst. The first syllable of moustache also was inaudible. I say it much more strongly. I think this is mostly another stress difference.

    Plait was not pronounced as I expected (it rhymed with cat). Another word rarely used in my experience. And mayor was more run together than I’m used to. Aver was different, too. Okay, I’m going to stop now. Some of this was me not having heard words pronounced aloud, and some is across-the-pond differences. Just interesting.

  42. @Lenore —

    The reader pronounces ballet and toward with the stress on the first syllable. Pronunciations I’ve heard in the American regions I’ve lived in have the stress on the second syllable in each.

    “Ballet” — for me, the emphasis shifts. “I’m going to the ballet” –> second syllable. “I’m going to ballet class” –> probably first. Hmmm.

    “Toward” — basically one syllable –> tord.

    Plait was not pronounced as I expected (it rhymed with cat).

    I have heard people say it both ways, but to me “plat” is more correct.

  43. Dear folks,

    On the matter of names and myriad variant pronunciations, there is Poul Anderson. The precisely correct way to pronounce his name will forever be a mystery, because he was not inclined to talk about himself in the third person nor did he ever correct anyone’s pronunciation. I heard so many different versions.

    (For the record, for those who have only seen his name in print, it is definitely not pronounced either “paul” or “pool.”)

    I considered Karen to be the authoritative source on the matter, so I made an only semi-successful effort to copy her pronunciation, which had sort of a blended ah/oh/oo vowel, with the oh being dominant.

    All well and good, until his memorial service, when his brother was there to speak. He pronounced Poul’s name differently from any other variant I’d heard, including Karen’s. Not a whole lot different… But DIFFERENT.


    Still a lot easier for an English speaker to get close to correct than Somtow Papinian Sucharitkul!

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

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