So, for those of you who haven’t heard, there’s something rotten in Readercon. Here’s a quick summation of what happened, along with Readercon’s verdict. Here’s Nick Mamatas’s takedown of said verdict. And here’s Readercon’s statement about why they decided to completely drop every possible ball in this situation. I think that’ll be enough to get you up to speed, at least more or less. Also, Nick Kaufman wrote a letter saying a lot of the same things I’m feeling, and better than I will.
To say that the Readercon board’s reaction to this situation is a disappointment would be a supreme understatement. It feels more like a betrayal, and it sends a powerful message that is, I hope, not the one they intended to send. Many other people have articulated these things much better than I can here, but I feel that it’s important that I say that, yes, this is unacceptable.
A lot of people have chimed in saying that they won’t be going back to Readercon unless and until there has been some drastic change for the better. I’m one of them. Readercon was my first major con experience, and it remains my best. I felt welcomed and safe, even though I was just starting out as a writer then. I felt like I was surrounded by friends. Readercon has always been the con that I recommended to people, the one I said was the best of those I had attended. It’s always been my favorite con, filled with my favorite people. It is with a lot of regret that I contemplate never going back.
At this point it isn’t even their failure to permanently ban the offender for his actions that is most troubling to me; it’s their assumption that this was an acceptable way to respond. That they thought they could say, “No no, he’s a nice guy, and very sorry,” and that would be sufficient cause for an exception to be made for him. It doesn’t even matter whether or not that’s true. This assumption that its okay to make special exceptions, that only bad people do bad things, that it must not have been that big of a deal, aren’t you just overreacting a little bit, you wouldn’t want to get this guy banned would you?, is the bedrock upon which so much of the violence and hate and harassment and inequality in our world is built. That is what’s most troubling to me, and that’s why, until I see some very compelling reason to reconsider, I won’t be going back to Readercon, and I’ll certainly not be recommending it to anyone else.