Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Conventions and problematic people

While I have been peripherally involved in conventions and convention planning for years, I am NOT a convention organizer and could not ever handle the pressure of such events. That's been brought home to me again by a couple of recent incidents in fandom.

Let's start with the big one. A writer known for harassing people online said he was going to attend Worldcon and, among other potential acts, violate the rules by wearing a bodycam into a private suite. The Worldcon committee, after hearing about his threats, determined the threats were both believable and violated their rules and banned him from attending the convention.

He's now suing Worldcon.

I think he hasn't got a chance in the case, but I don't know California law, and I don't know what sort of lawyer he's got (although a couple people implied his lawyer is as pathetic as he is). I do know that the Worldcon committee has to deal with this nonsense as the convention is getting closer, and it's definitely a nuisance and planned to disrupt the convention as much as possible. In short, he's bullying the convention to cause a disruption after threatening to cause a disruption at the con. These are the actions of a sociopath, and not a person any fan should be comfortable associating with.

I don't see how suing the convention furthers any reasonable goal he might have. There is now no chance that any reasonable convention committee will ever invite him as a guest, as he's proven he's willing to file nuisance lawsuits against conventions. So if he's invited as a guest and doesn't like something about the convention? Potential lawsuit. No way any sane person will invite him again. And it also torpedoes his odds of being allowed to attend other conventions, because who wants a toxic, convention-suing guy at their con? No one.

Nothing good can come of this.

Let's move on to another incident. That of John Ringo and his momentary guestness at ConCarolina. It was announced a couple of days ago that Ringo would be a guest at ConCarolina, and a number of folks immediately objected and withdrew their own attendance because of things Ringo has said and some themes of his writing.

I admit, I own a number of Ringo's books in digital format from when I purchased many of Baen's ebooks. I know I've read at least one, but I honestly cannot remember any titles or plotlines of any of them. I think his writing didn't appeal to me, or I considered it filler to read while waiting for something good. I don't know. But his works clearly lacked impact and didn't connect with me. At the time I purchased them, I wasn't aware of his ... opinions on women. If I had been, I would not have purchased anything by him.

That said, ConCarolina has now disinvited Ringo, which isn't going to make the problem go away for the convention. In fact, it's a very bad sign after a similar incident hurt Odyssey Con last year, and several invited guests withdrew. As a person involved in conventions, these stories break my heart. It's so hard to get a convention going, so hard to figure out costs and then who to invite. And if you invite someone who is problematic, even if you are unaware of the problems, you might sink your entire effort.

It's enough to make a person swear off conventions. Certainly enough to make being on a concom a dangerous and scary job. I admit I admire those members of fandom who volunteer their time for such a thankless task even more after learning about these various problems.