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Worldcon Expels Truesdale

For anyone claiming the recording Truesdale made without anyone’s knowledge or consent somehow vindicates him, or that he only hijacked the first few minutes of the panel, here’s what I heard from Truesdale’s own recording:

  • It begins with introductions
  • Then Dave starts reading his “Special Snowflakes” treatise
  • After five minutes of this, Sheila Williams cut in and began shooting him down
  • Dave pipes in a minute later to try to ask, “But what about conservative SF?” Williams keeps going.
  • About nine minutes in, Neil Clarke points out that they’re still off-topic, and gets yelled at by random loud dude in the audience.
  • Eleven minutes in, Truesdale says he wasn’t finished. Gordon Van Gelder points out they’re off topic.
  • Truesdale tries yet again to get back to the evils of political correctness. Sheila Williams shoots him down again.
  • Fifteen minutes in, Truesdale goes off about “a certain group” of bullies who can’t stand disagreement and will crucify you for having other opinions.
  • After another minute and a half of this, Williams and others once again try to respond and get back on focus.
  • Twenty minutes in, Truesdale starts talking about this one anthology editor who produced a mostly/all-male anthology and got crucified, and why it wasn’t his fault, and–
  • Several people try to respond and refocus.
  • About twenty-two minutes in, Wiscon is mentioned. Predictably, Truesdale takes a jab at Wiscon.
  • Jonathan Strahan defends Wiscon and talks about the goal of listening to *more* people, not fewer.
  • Twenty-five minutes in, Truesdale continues to talk about how there’s too much intimidation “from the left.”
  • Gordon Van Gelder points out, again, that the panel continues to be off-topic.

I stopped listening at this point, because I’d heard more than enough. Listening to his own recording, the man hijacked at least half the panel for his own personal crusade.

###

Follow-up blog post at http://www.jimchines.com/2016/08/more-worldcon-thoughts/  (You knew I’d end up doing a follow-up on this one, right?)

###

Updates since I posted this:

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Just catching up on today’s Worldcon drama. It began when Worldcon selected Dave Truesdale to moderate a panel on the State of Short Fiction. Instead, it’s been reported that Truesdale used the first 10 minutes of the panel for “a 10 minute monologue on how ‘special snowflakes’ who are easily offended are destoying SF.” (Source) He was literally clutching bead necklaces that he called “pearls.” Some people walked out of the audience. Other panelists shot Truesdale’s assertions down and tried to get the panel back on topic. Basically, it sounds like a mess.

This morning, over on Facebook, Truesdale shared an email he says he received from the convention, revoking his membership for his “unacceptable behavior” during that panel.

To be clear, I’m not at Worldcon. I didn’t see first-hand what happened on this panel. (I have read multiple reports from folks in the audience and others on the panel.) It does sound like Truesdale acted like an ass, derailed the panel, and pissed off a lot of people who wanted to, you know, talk about the state of short fiction.

As you might have guessed, I have thoughts about all this…

  • Who the hell thought it was a good idea to put Dave Truesdale in charge of this panel? He’s been doing these rants for years, if not decades. How can the convention turn around and pretend to be shocked by his pearl-clutching derail when that’s pretty much who he is and what he’s known for?
  • I’ve seen panel derails and blow-ups before. People have gotten into shouting matches, walked off of panels, and so on. I’ve never heard of someone being kicked out of the con for it. (Not invited back as a panelist, sure. Kicked out? Maybe it’s happened, but it’s not a practice I’m aware of.)
  • Right now, we have only Truesdale’s post about him being kicked out. It’s possible there’s more to this than just his ridiculous behavior on that panel.
  • As Truesdale has gone public with this, I hope Worldcon will issue a statement clarifying why he was expelled from the convention, and whether he violated convention policies either on the panel or elsewhere.
  • ETA: From the Worldcon Code of Conduct: “MidAmeriCon II reserves the right to revoke membership from and eject anyone at any time from a MidAmeriCon II event without a refund. Any action or behavior that … adversely affects MidAmeriCon II’s relationship with its guests, its venue, or the public is strictly forbidden and may result in revocation of membership privileges.

I think we’ve all seen people derail panels for their own personal agendas. Truesdale’s moderation might have been an epic shitshow, but is it grounds for expulsion?

Like I said, we don’t have all the facts on this. Just people’s comments on the panel, and Truesdale’s own account of why he was kicked out. But it sounds like a mess.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
inverarity
Aug. 20th, 2016 05:41 pm (UTC)
I really hope there is something more to this, because if they just kicked him out because he was an ass on a panel and a bunch of people complained that he upset them, it's going to validate a lot of the anti-PC complaints.
jimhines
Aug. 20th, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC)
I've been told there's more to it, but nothing I can confirm or that's been made public yet. Waiting to learn more...
idancewithlife
Aug. 20th, 2016 06:06 pm (UTC)
Um. I pulled the link for the panel you gave us. I wonder whose idea it was to have speaker icons default to apparent male features. I guess I saw this as Just One More Sign that even the best-meaning people still tend to default to non-inclusive head spaces.
rosefox
Aug. 20th, 2016 08:30 pm (UTC)
How can the convention turn around and pretend to be shocked by his pearl-clutching derail when that’s pretty much who he is and what he’s known for?

1) The people making programming decisions are not generally the people making "kick this person out" decisions. As you know perfectly well.

It's quite plausible that whoever was in charge of programming either had never heard of him and put him in as moderator because he has what looks like a solid résumé and checked the "willing to moderate" box, or thought "Ol' Dave might come on a bit strong but I've never seen him get really out of hand, and there are lots of other reasonable people there to balance him out, and this way we have a range of opinions". It's not like he has a history of reading speeches from the podium. And then surprise! he reads a speech from the podium, and it is no longer a programming issue but a "we're getting dozens of complaints and this is significantly tarnishing our image" issue and different people get involved.

2) Where do you get "pretend to be shocked" from? I haven't seen any shock or pretense thereof, just a response to deliberately shitty behavior.

Not invited back as a panelist, sure. Kicked out? Maybe it’s happened, but it’s not a practice I’m aware of.

I'm just staring at this and blinking. Up until a few years ago, kicking people out of cons for groping other people wasn't a common practice. Why would you invoke common practice as some sort of reasonable standard when common practice is exactly what we've been trying so hard to change?

"Not invited back" is irrelevant to Worldcon, since a different group of people runs it every year. As you also know perfectly well. So again, why invoke it here?

I think we’ve all seen people derail panels for their own personal agendas. Truesdale’s moderation might have been an epic shitshow, but is it grounds for expulsion?

Please do explain where you feel the Venn diagram of "epic shitshow" and "grounds for expulsion" do NOT overlap.

The dude brought a written speech and read it out. I've seen people derail panels, sure, but not like that. It really doesn't matter what he was saying or whether people agreed with it (though it certainly doesn't help his case that he upset and angered a lot of folks on the panel and in the audience). This was a planned, deliberate misuse of the platform that the convention graciously gave him, and they have no obligation at all to keep him around. If I were moderating a panel on the year's short SF and I started reading aloud from the #BlackSpecFic essays instead of letting the panel continue, I'd expect to get kicked out too. You can call it civil disobedience or whatever you want, but you don't get to take a microphone given to you for a specific purpose and use it for an entirely different purpose without the event organizers getting pissed at you. I don't understand why this is even a question.

Edited at 2016-08-20 08:39 pm (UTC)
stevendj
Aug. 20th, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
Agreed. The thing about missing stairs is that sometimes even a person who should know about the missing stair doesn't. It is emphatically not their fault for not knowing.
rosefox
Aug. 20th, 2016 11:41 pm (UTC)
When I became Readercon program chair I was shocked by how many names on the invitation list I didn't know. And that's for an ongoing regional convention with a long history, where I could turn to someone who'd been on the concom longer and say "Uh, who is this? Should I let them moderate panels?". Worldcon program chairs have to deal with people who live in dozens of countries, many of whom are big fish in their own small ponds and expect to be treated accordingly. Even program chairs who have been around a very long time won't know everyone, much less have a sense of whether J. Random Fan is going to be a stellar moderator or a total disaster.

This year's program chair is Emma England, who lives in the U.K.; I don't know anything about Emma's background in fandom, but a bit of googling finds a 2013 blog post saying "I've never been to a Worldcon" (as well as stating a firm commitment to creating inclusive programming that welcomes diverse audiences, which I appreciate). On the other hand, the MAC2 programming "brain trust" includes Steven H Silver, Liz Batty, and several others who have a tremendous amount of fannish knowledge. Should one of them have gone "Oh no, don't make Truesdale a moderator--in fact, why is he even on the program?" at some point? Probably. But no one can catch everything. And no program chair, no matter how experienced, is going to expect even the crankiest crank to show up to a panel with a printed-out speech.
jimhines
Aug. 21st, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
"But no one can catch everything. And no program chair, no matter how experienced, is going to expect even the crankiest crank to show up to a panel with a printed-out speech."

That's fair. It's probably an unwarranted assumption on my part that mots people would be familiar with Truesdale's history of verbal diarrhea.

I'm struggling a bit with how much is reasonable to expect programming people at the Worldcon level to know and research before assigning moderators. But reading your comments and stevendj's, did my post come off as a form of victim-blaming?
rosefox
Aug. 21st, 2016 02:00 am (UTC)
No, it sounded defensive of Truesdale and like a throwback to the bad old days of "well, sure, this dude was a dick, but was he really THAT MUCH of a dick, what kind of precedent are we setting, is this EXCESSIVE" hand-wringing. And that seemed really weird even before word got out about the printed speech and all.
jimhines
Aug. 21st, 2016 02:19 am (UTC)
Oh, hell. Sounding defensive of Truesdale was the last thing I wanted to do. I'll go back and reread.

I have more thoughts, but I'm also trying to catch up on more than 100 comments and notifications here and elsewhere, so they're a little frazzled at the moment. My apologies.
rosefox
Aug. 21st, 2016 02:20 am (UTC)
Dude, you don't owe me a thing! Take your time or don't reply at all. It's your blog.
jimhines
Aug. 21st, 2016 02:26 am (UTC)
I consider you a friend. I don't like to feel like I'm blowing you off.

But thanks :-)
legionseaglelj
Aug. 21st, 2016 08:15 am (UTC)
Emma England did programming for Loncon and has a long track record doing programming for Eastercon (British SF's annual major convention.) She's a very experienced conrunner.
rosefox
Aug. 21st, 2016 08:22 am (UTC)
Good to know, thank you!
heavenscalyx
Aug. 21st, 2016 04:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all your comments here, Rose.

I note, adding on to your comments about the Programming Chair, that one cannot assume that everyone is in the same social media circles on the Internet, or spends the same amount of time on the Internet. What is "common knowledge" to those of us who frequent it may not be to folks who do other things with their time. I am recalling, for example, some key folks in decisionmaking about another shitshow at a different con saying that they hadn't heard at all about the Readercon issues.
jeliza
Aug. 20th, 2016 11:48 pm (UTC)
Speaking only to the "why was he mod" bit, at my con panelists have to indicate interest in moderating. If only one says yes, I'd need a LOT of background knowledge about the panelists to ignore that and put someone else in. I only handle one track, and even so I don't always have rich knowledge about the panelists and their behavior, particularly elsewhere.
rosefox
Aug. 20th, 2016 11:59 pm (UTC)
If Worldcon did the same, I would bet money that somewhere between half and all the other people on the panel, who have collectively done approximately 70 million "state of short SF" panels, looked at the moderation checkbox and thought ugh, not again and skipped it.
jimhines
Aug. 21st, 2016 01:39 am (UTC)
Thank you for this. As I said above, I'm not a conrunner myself, so I may be making some false assumptions about what's reasonable to expect people to know.
jimhines
Aug. 21st, 2016 01:35 am (UTC)
"The people making programming decisions are not generally the people making "kick this person out" decisions. As you know perfectly well."

And as I think you know perfectly well, I'm not actually a SMOF, nor have I been involved in conrunning, so please don't make assumptions about what I do or don't know.

"The dude brought a written speech and read it out."

Which is not something I was aware of when I wrote the post. I've updated it with additional information that's come in.

I get that you're angry about this, and it sounds like angry at me in particular, which is fine. But it also sounds like some of that anger comes from assumptions about what you think I already knew.

You're right it's possible the people in charge of programming didn't know that yes, Dave does have a long and well-documented history of this flavor of nonsense. If they did have an idea, then I'd maintain that making him moderator of the panel was poor judgement. If not... I don't know. I guess I'm still struggling with how someone could be in charge of programming but not looped into some of this. But that could be ignorance on my part about how programming is done.

The epic shitshow vs. grounds for expulsion question ... I guess I've seen or been on far too many panels that were epic shitstorms in one respect or another. Lots of derailing. Old Big Name taking over the panel and turning into his personal hour of reminiscing (and constantly talking over the GoH). Nasty fighting over who is and isn't a fan, resulting in people getting up to storm off the panel.

I see them as an overlapping Venn diagram, but I don't see the Epic Shitshow circle as entirely contained within Grounds for Expulsion.

All that said, as more information comes out about the premeditation and planning, the recording without permission, and a few other things that were shared with me in confidence, let's just say I'm no longer feeling ambivalent about this.

I've been gone most of the day and am trying to catch up on comments and such. (And I feel like a damn fool for posting this on a day I knew I'd be away from the internet. I know better, dammit.)

I get that you're upset and disappointed and angry. I'm completely up for talking more, either here or email or Skype or whatever, if you want. I'm sure there's more I'm not aware of, or other things I might not have considered.
martianmooncrab
Aug. 20th, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC)
some days you just have to give someone just enough rope to hang themselves with it and then turn them loose.

Works every time.
ckd
Aug. 20th, 2016 11:45 pm (UTC)
It seems likely that he was rejected for a violation of the Code of Conduct, namely:
"Video and audio recording and photography for personal archival use only is generally acceptable unless individuals make it clear that they do not want to be photographed or recorded. In that case, any photographing or recording them is expressly forbidden."
rosefox
Aug. 21st, 2016 12:00 am (UTC)
This is the statement the convention put on Twitter:

he caused significant interference with event operations and excessive discomfort to others

I think the bit about him recording the panel without the consent of the other panelists came out after that.

Edited at 2016-08-21 12:01 am (UTC)
suricattus
Aug. 21st, 2016 03:07 am (UTC)
Yeah. If he's recording people without their permission and posting it, he may be in more trouble than just getting kicked out of a convention. I'm not sure what a tort of seclusion would say about this, considering it was not a public event (memberships were required) and the code of conduct says they recordings were only for very specific use, in that particular state, but someone of the legal persuasion could probably nail it down pretty fast...

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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