The Culture War Comes to MarsCon

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”.

Roberts included the screencaps in her “Formal Complaint to MarsCon” that Correia has violated their Harassment Policy, and linked to a copy of the complaint from her own Facebook post:


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. 

Harassment:

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.

My Request:

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.]


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34 thoughts on “The Culture War Comes to MarsCon

  1. Correia, whose secret is the same as Bruce Banner’s (“I’m mad all the time”)

    Okay, that made me laugh.

  2. I feel sorry for the folks from the other MarsCon, the Minnesota one. I hope this doesn’t negatively affect them.

  3. I wouldn’t normally follow any con that includes MarsCon in the text, and I certainly didn’t know there were TWO Mars Cons!

  4. I think that the consensus as to what the legitimate boundaries for tolerable opinions, dialogue, behaviour and treatment of each other have been breaking down, in favour of self absorbed righteousness and tribalism.

    We tolerate certain kinds of conduct from our own tribe, that are utterly anathema when we find them in the other tribe because they are by definition satanic. We also tolerate or welcome the bullying of members of our own tribe if they are not sufficiently pure and loyal.

    I see no possible way this could lead to unpleasantness or bad outcomes.

  5. D.G. Valdron: I think that the consensus as to what the legitimate boundaries for tolerable opinions, dialogue, behaviour and treatment of each other have been breaking down

    There has never been a consensus on those boundaries. You just perceived there to be a consensus, because before now, a dominant group got to dictate what those boundaries were, and dissenting voices were either not permitted to speak, or were ignored.

  6. I can’t imagine a more unprofessional response than Correia’s. All I need to know about the man is there in his first paragraph, and it only gets worse from there. It’s textbook rage from an NPD misogynist for being called out for bad behaviour, calling for his flying monkeys to do damage, while saying “Don’t. Stop. Don’t stop.” I am only a fringe con-goer now, and I am not up to speed on anything, but my long years of experience with men like him has made it easy to pick out the BS. The fact that he is making a mess and having a tantrum is not going to do good things for Marscon. Seriously, I can’t imagine how they can keep him, and that’s his goal. He’s creating such a mess, that he will not be able to be a guest, and then he can go on another rage fest about how he was done wrong and Roberts “got him removed”.

  7. @D.G. Valdron–Ah, the well-worn “both sides.”

    Nope. As JJ said, a dominant subset of society used to be able to dictate whose voices got heard, and now the previously suppressed voices are being heard more often.

    And some folks don’t like that.

    Correia has been loud, unprofessional, abrasive, and nasty for as long as I’ve been aware of him, and now he’s doing it again, against a new target, because she dared to express any concern about how he’ll behave at MarsCon.

    And MarsCon is apparently okay with that. So noted.

  8. There may not be a more tame criticism than “I don’t think he’s an appropriate choice given the usual tone and inclusiveness of MarsCon.”

    But as everyone in fandom has seen over the years, Larry Correia can’t even handle mild criticism. He becomes unglued and spews a torrent of grievances and lies to his online following because he knows they will take this as marching orders and abuse his critics.

    Any convention that takes its code of conduct seriously is abandoning that commitment by inviting Correia. He’s been raging at members of the science fiction community for years.

    Earlier this week Thomas Monteleone let his white male rage cost himself membership in the HWA, attendance at StokerCon and a lifetime achievement award. There’s an interesting parallel between Monteleone and Correia.

    Correia has been enraged at Worldcon and the Hugo Awards since 2011 when he was nominated for an Astounding Award and lost to Lev Grossman. He turned the experience of being honored with a nomination into a lifelong grudge that led him to attempt to burn down the Hugos with the Sad Puppies stunt.

    Monteleone was nominated for the same award in 1974. He also did not win, and was still so irate 20 years later that he used his Cemetary Dance column to launch a deeply racist attack at fellow nominee Jesse Miller.

  9. Headline for this is a bit inaccurate: “MarsCon Made the Culture Wars Its GOH” might be better.

    And then things go as anyone might have expected. LC explaining once again that those mean people just forced him to bully them.

    Well said, JJ, Lis Carey and rcade.

  10. Correia’s a thin-skinned bully who uses his fanbase as a hoard of flying monkeys. His politics shape how he directs it to a degree, although his inability to take even the most milquetoast of criticism is perhaps more of an influence, but bullies are bullies regardless of who they share a political affiliation with, and bullies should not be honoured.

  11. Someone needs to let Larry know that what he’s been doing over the past several years is NOT what the rest of us mean when we talk about creating “Safe Spaces” at conventions.

  12. @D.G. Valdron

    “I think that the consensus…”

    I regret not having access to a “+1”, “thumbs up”, or another form of quick approval/agreement. Please accept this overly wordy bit in lieu of that.

    It has already led to unpleasantness and bad outcomes and I see no cultural force that is likely to reinstate a premium on tolerance for other perspectives.

    @rcade

    “But as everyone in fandom has seen over the years, Larry Correia can’t even handle mild criticism.”

    Calling someone a racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. is not mild criticism. Implying that is cowardly but does not translate the accusation into being “mild” due to the implication.

    That is a strong assertion that is worthy of a strong response.

    It would be entirely appropriate for the con to take action against her based on her harassment of Larry. She attempted to start a dogpile based on vague allegations. I don’t approve of responding with a counter-dogpile, but I’m not entirely surprised by it.

    Perhaps she could have opted to skip any portions of the con where Larry would be speaking?

    Separately, I have attended a couple of events with authors that I either assume or know to have divergent political opinions from my own. (John Scalzi for one.) We both had a good time. I learned a little. Shook hands and had my photo taken with them.

    All because they wrote books that were wonderfully entertaining.

    So if Larry were to ever be at a similar event, I’d gladly go to that as well. He’s also written some books that are wonderfully entertaining. Top shelf material. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but a couple of his books are stellar. The few episodes of his podcast that I have heard were informative and quite frankly tolerant of people of different political perspectives.

    I’ve also said some very nice things about the works of authors that I know have politically divergent opinions from my own. That’s how it is supposed to work.

    Regards,
    Dann
    When I am Weaker Than You, I ask you for Freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am Stronger than you, I take away your Freedom Because that is according to my principles. – Frank Herbert, Children of Dune.

  13. Ugh. Cons can invite whoever they want, I will vote with my wallet and my feet on their choices. Here’s the thing. If a con I love, like Dragoncon, did this, and a similar controversy blew up, I could consider all the fun niche stuff I go to and actually prefer—the obscure panels in the smallest basement conference rooms—and ignore the headliner stuff which I almost always do anyway, because even if I’m a huge fan, the hassle of getting into the big hall is often not worth it. So in that sense I can feel distaste but ignore it. And there are plenty of big names who interest me not at all because their themes in their work aren’t my thing, or they have reputations as nasty buggers. I can simply avoid their appearances and go to what I like. Someone could have the opinions of a Correia and even yell about them online and I could reasonably attend the con if there are other things I want to see and do.

    The thing with Larry and the other sad puppy types is that they have enlisted a toxic subset of fandom in their crusade, and some of those fans will attend a con and feel the need to represent their viewpoint in every panel or conversation they set foot in. And some may think it’s just grand to “troll the SJWs” in person instead of online and will seek out panels and presentations to disrupt and sea lion. I’m not sure how much this happens but the way people act online makes it a possibility. And that’s the thing that makes me decide it’s not worth risking the hundreds of dollars a pass costs and have the experience ruined.

    But here’s the issue

  14. MarsCon chair Joel Lyon
    says on Facebook they are working on a “new Online Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy”.

    I’m guessing Larry Correia’s conduct in the MarsCon forum and on his Facebook wall will still be completely okay under these new guidelines.

  15. The decision to honor Larry Correia is going so well the convention has shut down comments.

    Conrunner Joel Lyons seemed less thrilled to have chosen Correia after he began raging at people in the comments of the MarsCon post. (Who could have seen that coming?)

    Lyons wrote to Correia, “While I understand this has become a fight you seem to always have when being invited to conventions. I ask you just like everyone else to please refrain from insults. I [k]now passions are running high bit we should strive to remain respectful to each other as much as possible.”

  16. And the odds of Joel Lyon accomplishing what no one ever has before, getting Correia to stop insulting people, would be how high?

  17. David Weber also weighed in, which sent a whole new wave of harassment my way. Joel Lyons elected to post Weber’s editorial content (supporting both Lyons and Correia) on the MarsCon page while it remains otherwise locked down for posts or comments.

  18. D.G. Valdron:

    “We tolerate certain kinds of conduct from our own tribe, that are utterly anathema when we find them in the other tribe because they are by definition satanic. We also tolerate or welcome the bullying of members of our own tribe if they are not sufficiently pure and loyal.”

    I have no idea why you tolerate bullying and things you believe to be “satanic” inside what you identify as your tribe, but I’m not sure what you mean by “we”. Everyone in your tribe (whatever that may be)? Only those that – like you – tolerate or welcome bullying?

  19. Dann665:

    “Calling someone a racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. is not mild criticism.”

    Could you link to where Roberts used any of those words with regards to Correia? Because I can’t find them in the summary.

  20. Calling someone a racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. is not mild criticism. … It would be entirely appropriate for the con to take action against her based on her harassment of Larry.

    You’re gaslighting. The criticism “I don’t think he’s an appropriate choice given the usual tone and inclusiveness of MarsCon” is not an accusation of racism, sexism or homophobia. Suggesting that her complaint constitutes harassment that the convention should act on is deranged.

    You and other Correia supporters are portraying this as a conflict over differing political viewpoints, just like he does, but it’s not about his politics. It’s about how he treats people. He’s an abusive hothead who spews venom about anyone who criticizes his behavior and uses his blog and social media accounts to incite his followers to harass them.

    The claim that he’s an inappropriate choice for an inclusive con is already proving itself in the MarsCon post announcing that he’s a guest of honor. Correia had to be told by the con chair Joel Lyons not to engage in personal attacks in the comments.

  21. Correia, whose secret is the same as Bruce Banner’s (“I’m mad all the time”)

    Odd I have been to quite a few Cons where Larry attended never saw him mad at all, but then no one went to the trouble to create an incident with him, Real life is not the same as hiding behind a monitor

  22. How you treat people online is also real life. Organized online harassment has led to in-person harassment, such as when people are doxxed, stalked and photographed surreptitiously, or directly threatened.

    There have been numerous incidents in science fiction conventions where people stirred up with hateful rhetoric online showed up at cons and violated the code of conduct with their behavior.

    Every SF convention that is trying to be a safe and welcoming space for all attendees has to take action to keep the toxicity of online trolls and abusers out of the event.

  23. Daniel William Kauffman on February 4, 2023 at 8:13 pm said:

    Odd I have been to quite a few Cons where Larry attended never saw him mad at all

    If Correia’s online persona is so sharply at odds with his real-life persona then that is 100% his problem not everybody else’s. If he’d like people to believe he’s sweetness & light then he could put less effort into acting belligerent. Him getting cross with people and sending mobs after them because they took his online persona at face value only add to his problems.

  24. Btw, Dann665: I’d say that if you don’t want to be called a sexist and a homophobe, a good idea is to not put pure misogynist and homophobic hate screeds on your nomination list as something award worthy. Such as John C Wright’s Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth. I mean, wtf?

    “Also, a woman who is crude inspires contempt, because she has contempt for God and man. The difference is that a woman who loses her native delicacy and modesty does not become an object of fear and respect, but an object of contempt and loathing, because the aura of sanctity women naturally inspire in men is tossed away.”

    This is the stuff Correia likes and wants to promote? Then sexism and homophobia seems to be mild judgements.

  25. @John H Winkelman it is very easy to be big and bold behind a monitor, some actually are and some are like tiny mammals scurrying away from the dinosaurs when they are IRL

  26. “You’re gaslighting.”

    Dann665 isn’t gaslighting. He’s simply lying. It is what Dann665 does. He has never participated in a conversation in any forum that I have read in which he did not lie in almost every post he made.

    I mean, this is just the regular pattern for right-wing trolls like Dann665: A guy like Correia fabricates claims about insults that were launched at him, and bootlicking scum like Dann665 repeat those lies on forums claiming that Correia’s lies are true.

  27. Daniel William Kauffman “He’s nice in person” is not nearly the flex you seem to think it is. All that means is that he knows how to behave like a civilized person and chooses not to. Which means his shitty online persona is intentional.

    Which means he is simply a shitty person in general.

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