FJ Bergmann Defends Against WisCon Harassment Complaint

Poet F.J. Bergmann, the subject of a harassment complaint filed by Rose Lemberg with the WisCon committee in 2013 that has been open for 18 months, alleges in a new blog post the animus driving the complaint came from Alex Dally MacFarlane, recently criticized by Athena Andreadis, Elizabeth Bear and Laura J. Mixon as part of the network of followers of blogger Requires Hate (Benjanun Sriduangkaew).

Alex Dally MacFarlane publicly supported Lemberg’s 2013 complaint against Bergmann with a series of tweets she later assembled in a narrative at Storify.

The substance of the complaint is that Bergmann harassed Lemberg by reading the poem “Meet and Marry a Gorgeous Russian Queen” at the Moment of Change-sponsored open mike at WisCon in 2012. Lemberg felt the audience was meant to identify traits mocked in the poem (accent, nationality, academic background) with her.

Bergmann denied this in 2013, and does so again in the new post with the added charge, “I believe that I have been intentionally harmed by Alex Dally MacFarlane (ADM), and I wish to make a public report of my experiences.”

Bergmann has also responded to File 770’s questions about WisCon’s progress in resolving the harassment complaint.

WisCon has been investigating me as a result of the official complaint from ADM and Saira Ali since summer 2014. The original Chair of the investigation committee, Debbie Notkin, stepped down and a new committee formed. One of those on it was K. Tempest Bradford, who had proclaimed herself to be a friend of both MacFarlane and Ali. I objected, and she eventually withdrew, reluctantly. Then another committee member quit. The replacement committee has been deliberating since October, which is the last time they asked me for any information. They said that they intended to present a public report after January 2, but this has not yet happened. I understand that they have reported to the concom and asked for input.

Today (January 22) WisCon issued its own update:

The subcommittee convened to consider Rose Lemberg’s report of harassment by F.J. Bergmann is beginning to wrap up its work.  Finalizing conclusions and recommendations will yet take several weeks.  The last stage of the process begins with the concom voting on whether to accept the subcommittee’s final report and recommendations.

The subcommittee’s next update will be an announcement when the concom begins voting.

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9 thoughts on “FJ Bergmann Defends Against WisCon Harassment Complaint

  1. “The subcommittee convened to consider Rose Lemberg’s report of harassment by F.J. Bergmann is beginning to wrap up its work.”

    I’m not a lawyer, but the lack of the word ‘alleged’ in that sentence seems to indicate that there has already been a finding.

    Of course, I suspect that no on else involved this in subcommittee is a lawyer either.

    However, unlike Wiscon or the subcommittee, I’m not liable to be sued for defamation of character.

  2. Harassment or slander? That’s for Lawyers to determine.
    Defamation of character? Lawyers too.
    Remember when a major East Coast con threw out a fan? He went and got a lawyer, cost the con THOUSANDS.
    Yeah, that’s what Cons need. More Lawyers!
    (is the sarcasm too obvious?)

  3. My point is that when a convention decides to go down this path (and mind you, I’m not saying they should just ignore harassment charges), they need to be very careful. Or, there will be thousands of dollars of legal fees.

  4. Jeff: Just a thought — lawyers don’t decide anything. They advocate for opposing parties. It’s the parties themselves who decide that they want to proceed to law, and what it is they’re fighting about. Lawyers help them find the right legal labels for their causes of action, and try to get their clients whatever the law provides.

  5. True enough. However my point, as well as Ed’s, is that when Cons and Fans turn to lawyers to advocate their respective Causes of Action things get very expensive very quickly. One wonders if Shakespeare’s quote about ‘lawyer-cide’ is more based on economics than philosophy.
    (this is a joke, please don’t sue me, i’m poor and you’ll likely get nothing…)

  6. Noticed something after this poet’s post came up. Colum Paget, one of Requires Hates targets and a visitor to my blog, never sat right with me (his case I mean). He doesn’t fit RH’s M.O. She attacked big name white male authors as a cover and POC mid listers for her own career ends (at least in her head). Paget was neither of those things. Also, he seems to be the only case of a single short story getting the Hate treatment. Odd.
    So I Googled the details of the James White award the year that story won and guess who he’s up against? Tori Trusslow. Alex Dally MacFarlane’s partner. Did RH do a freebie for friends, collecting favours? A conspiracy theory maybe, but with this latest case plus what was apparently dealt to Andreadis etc by MacFarlane it certainly pause for thought.
    What depresses me is, time and again with all these cases, you go in expecting zealous idealism as the cause only to scratch the surface and find the pettiest self-interest. The ethics of the most vocal always seem to transpire to be varnish. As I say, depressing.

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