MarsCon 2024 chair Joel Lyon announced on January 27 that Larry Correia will be Writer Guest of Honor at the event being held next year in Virginia.
After the Facebook announcement drew a number of congratulatory comments, filksinger Madison Metricula Roberts, who also spoke out when John Ringo was selected as ConCarolinas Guest in 2018, challenged the choice:
Lyon responded: [Note: Clouse was a commenter on Roberts’ comment.]
There followed a surge of Correia supporters voicing their pleasure that he would be a GoH, with only two of the 180 comments on the post criticizing him for his role in starting the Sad Puppies Hugo controversy. After a couple of days Chair Lyon shut down comments on the post.
Roberts’ complaint predictably drove a great deal of traffic to Correia’s Facebook page, and as she wrote on her own Facebook page: “If anyone would like to catch up on public comments and name calling in the public thread on his author page (as well as where he says at least twice I personally got him thrown out of ConCarolinas, which is verifiably false.” Roberts assembled screencaps of what Correia and commenters said there and made it available at Dropbox: “Larry Ref Complaint Thread Grab.pdf”.
MarsCon Con Chair and Staff:
I would like to alert you to Larry Correia’s violation of the MarsCon Harassment Policy and Code of Conduct as written and as I interpret it. I am requesting it to be reviewed via this official channel outlined in the policy.
Mr. Correia has not treated me with “common courtesy” as referenced in the Harassment policy, becoming hostile immediately in response to my criticism of the Con Chair’s choice to promote him as a Guest of Honor.
He then used my request that harassment, code of conduct, weapons, and diversity policies at the con be updated/reviewed and easy to find as evidence that I was insinuating that he personally was “racist, sexist” and made people feel unsafe. He has continued with those accusations even after my repeated clarification in the thread and my personal conversation with the Con Chair, in which he said Mr. Correia apologized for “goading” me.
I reiterated that the “tone” I was referring to was the combative tone that Mr. Correia (and many of his supporters, for whom I will make separate complaints) exhibited in the thread using assumptions, hostility, insults, and direct tagging me demanding further explanation–even in unrelated comments on other threads (see attached PDFs for marked instances).
In compliance with the Harrassment Policy and requests from the Con Chair in the threads themselves, I refrained from engaging further with Mr. Correia in that forum, though I offered to continue the discussion with him in another public forum or via private contact.
After that, Mr. Correia continued to tag me personally in the same MarsCon forum, even after a warning from the Con Chair. This evening, Mr. Correia also included my name on a reposted comment to his followers on his author page. While Mr. Correia has every right to use my public comments in this way, I believe he has already demonstrated in the MarsCon forum his willingness to allow his fans to continue his vitriol and harassment on his behalf (see attached). By continuing to declare his false accusations of my intent and involvement, I think my initial concerns of his combativeness to dissenters were well-founded.
While my comments are public and I stand by them, I have never called Mr. Correia racist, sexist, etc. nor have called fo him to be disinvited from the convention. However, Mr. Correia has continually accused me of doing so, and demanded I respond multiple times after I indicated I was not discussing it in the MarsCon forum further.
In private communication with the Con Chair, I was assured he understood that I was not calling for Mr. Correia to be disinvited nor had I suggested it. The Con Chair also posted this on my behalf publicly, to little effect on Mr. Correia’s continued demands and harassment.
I reiterate that to my knowledge, no one has publicly called for Mr. Correia to be disinvited, as he claims, though I understand that the difference between “disinvitation” and “we question why you picked him” can be a fine line to someone in Mr. Correia’s situation and experience.
Mr. Correia’s repsonse to my criticism of the Con Chair’s choice of him as GoH has been explosive, derisive, and disproportionate.
Code of Conduct:
More concerningly, Mr. Correia has flagrantly violated the Code of Conduct, specifically Item 9–”be excellent to each other”–which I interpret to mean that courtesy, kindness, and moderation are values of the MarsCon community.
My criticism of the Con Chair’s choice of Mr. Correia as GoH was specifically because Mr. Correia and a vocal subset of his fans have a reputation for being combative, rude, and dismissive of social collaboration online. Regardless of whether this was founded or not (though in way of explanation, I took time to read more of Mr. Correia’s blog, social media, and essays to make sure my perception of him was not mistaken), Mr. Correia has behaved in exactly that way to me and others in the MarsCon community. He condones insults and ad hominem attacks, makes false accusations even after being presented with contrary evidence, and generally has been unpleasant, unhelpful, and unrepresentative of the previous tone of the MarsCon forum. I have detailed some examples of his combative tone and inappropriate language below, also in the attached PDFs.
Concerns about Enforcement of These Policies:
Additionally, the ConChair has repeatedly stated publicly that Mr. Correia’s involvement and behavior at other conventions has no bearing on his presence at MarsCon and asked members who bring that up to refrain from doing so. Mr. Correia, however, blatantly continued to do so even after others abided by the Con Chair’s request.
I believe that at the current time, the Con Chair is setting an unfortunate and unfair set of standards where the GoH doesn’t have to abide by the same rules as everyone else–even after publicly telling Mr. Correia the rules do, in fact, apply to him.
The Con Chair has stated publicly that Mr. Correia’s online behavior (even in professional or professional adjacent spaces) has no bearing on his ability to be a guest as long as he is not “rude in person” (see PDF highlights).
I believe this is a mistake, though I also respect the right of a convention to define and curate what kind of tone and behavior it finds acceptable. In this case, I believe this dichotomy is not in the spirit of the Code of Conduct and it is being blatantly ignored.
I request that the Con Chair and committee review my complaint and concerns in accordance to the reporting procedures outlined by the Harassment Policy. I am not requesting any specific action or disinvitation, only that I would like my complaints escalated to the proper channels and allow them to handle it in accordance with their policies or internal procedures.
Marscon’s relatively unsophisticated “Harassment Policy” reads:
MarsCon considers itself a family friendly convention. All forms of harassment are detrimental to the health and well-being of our attendees and the convention in general. In an effort to enhance MarsCon’s standing in the Science Fiction Convention Universe, its staff is developing a standard harassment policy and reporting procedures.
It is imperative that everyone understands that No means No, Stop means Stop, and Leave Me Alone means Leave Me Alone! If attendees treat each other with common courtesy and respect, there should be no reason to institute the reporting procedures.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you are being harassed, please maintain your cool and ask the person to stop. If they do not stop, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Find friends or a staff member and ask for assistance.
At no time is the use of aggression or physical force acceptable unless your life and wellbeing are in question!!
Correia, whose secret is the same as Bruce Banner’s (“I’m mad all the time”), today retaliated in a blog post “My Response To The Official Complaint At Marscon About My ‘Tone’” [Internet Archive] which interleaves brief snips of Roberts’ complaint with acres of verbiage that wander far afield from her actual allegations. Near the end is what might be considered the gist of his 5,700+ words:
… I keep going to cons because I don’t like to let bullies win. I know that every single time I get invited to something, this same exact thing is going to happen. I’ve been through this. I’ve watched others go through this. I know their tricks. I know their tactics. None of this is new.
They’ve tried this for the last few cons I went to. They tried this same exact thing last year when I was the GoH at FenCon. Same thing. Some vague complaints about feeling unsafe. Some outrage. Dire predictions of danger and craziness. About five to ten listless angry types posting lots. And don’t worry, up next in the cycle if you don’t cave, will come the very dramatic flouncing, as those five to ten people very loudly and publicly declare that they simply cannot attend any event which would host such a monster with all his disgusting yet unspecified ideas….
[Thanks to Karl-Johan Norén for the story.]