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More Worldcon Thoughts

We all knew I’d end up posting a follow-up to yesterday’s piece about Worldcon’s expulsion of Dave Truesdale, right?

A lot more information has come out in the past 24 hours. At this point, it’s obvious from what’s been shared publicly that Dave Truesdale violated multiple items of Worldcon’s posted code of conduct, and that this was something done with a great deal of planning and forethought.

The more we learn about Truesdale’s actions, the more it’s become clear to me that the con made the right call in kicking his ass out. Not for his political beliefs. Not for derailing a panel or utterly failing to do his job as moderator. But for his planned and deliberate disruption of the convention. He also recorded (and intends to publish) panelists without their knowledge or consent, among other things.

(And there are other things as well, some of which have not been shared publicly. I don’t know when or if that will change.)


Part of my frustration yesterday was that Worldcon put Truesdale on this panel as moderator to begin with. He’s someone whose over-the-top rants I’ve been aware of for years, if not decades, including his conflicts with Eugie Foster, his hostility toward attempts at inclusiveness and spotlighting authors traditionally excluded from the genre,  his behavior after the SFWA Bulletin cover mess a few years back, and much more.

As one person put it on Twitter, “Truesdale’s gonna Truesdale.”

A number of people pushed back on this, and made good and valid points about how much we can expect programming volunteers to know about the history and background of their panelists and moderators.

I find myself thinking of last year, when I was editing Invisible 2, and ended up running a blog post by someone who was known in other circles to be…problematic, at best. I had no clue. One suggestion (which I’m hoping to follow) was that I needed a co-editor who might be more aware of areas like that. Ultimately, that mess was my responsibility as editor. But is it fair to expect me to have vetted all of my potential contributors?

And I only had about twenty. Worldcon has a hell of a lot more.

The programming mess at World Fantasy Con also comes to mind. There’s a general sense that WFC should have known what they were getting when they put Darrel Schweitzer in charge of programming. But then, there’s a difference between selecting someone to run your entire programming division vs. going through all of the volunteer panelists and moderators.

Ideally, I do think there should be awareness of who’s being put on panels, and recognition that when you put someone like Truesdale in charge of a panel, there’s a good chance you’re gonna get a dumpster fire. But that’s easier said than done. We’re not all online. We’re not all in the same circles.

I don’t have an answer on this one, but I welcome people’s thoughts.


A note to myself for future reference: Posting something potentially inflammatory before spending most of the day away from the internet and visiting friends? Bad idea…


We’ve seen the predictable whining that the thought-police banned Truesdale for his beliefs. If that was the case, then I do think that would be a problem.

But that’s bullshit. Truesdale was banned for his actions.

That’s a really important distinction to me, and sometimes it’s a confusing or complicated line to try to draw. It’s one of the things I was concerned about yesterday, when less was known. Now, this is about me personally. I don’t expect or demand everyone to agree with me on this — I’m not sure I can even explain it that well — but that distinction between trying to judge people’s beliefs vs. judging based on their actions is pretty much a core principle for me. (Even if, being human myself, I sometimes fail to perfectly live up to it.)

I hope that made sense.


In conclusion, from what I’ve seen now, Dave was kicked out for his actions, which violated multiple aspects of the code of conduct. And I’m okay with that. (The kicking out part, not the violating the code of conduct part…)

Also, yesterday gave me a bit of internet burnout. I’ll keep reading comments, but I probably won’t be responding/posting much more today.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
with the internets, instead of relying on someones resume or CV, to just google them and see what shows up.
Aug. 21st, 2016 09:32 pm (UTC)
This is prohibitively time-consuming for any convention that gets hundreds of applications. (Which even the small ones do.) Even if you only got 100 applications and spent five minutes on each, that's 500 volunteer-minutes, which most conventions' program staff do not have to spare.
Aug. 22nd, 2016 12:09 am (UTC)
not saying to do that to every single panelist, but to check ones that arent known.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 21st, 2016 10:10 pm (UTC)
The flip side of such a database is that, in other contexts, we call it a "blacklist", and it is traditionally a tool of reactionary oppression directed at reformers, liberals, trade union activists, and so on.

It may be okay to build a cumulative list of folks who were banned from previous conventions because of a specific violation of their code of conduct, but it'd be a really bad idea to try and build a list of folks who have Said Things On Twitter (or blogs) that may be out of context, or that they may have recanted of, or whatever else, without some sort of process and some avenue of appeal. All of which adds workload.

In other words, we need checks and balances.

(Having said that, I totally support efforts to make conventions a safe space for all, and I'm clear that Truesdale overstepped a line in the sand and deserves what he got. This is not an apologia for his bad behaviour. Just reservations: what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, after all, and per Rawls, the acid test for a system of justice is how it treats the unjustly accused, not just the guilty.)
Aug. 22nd, 2016 06:15 am (UTC)
Not to mention that anyone trying to operate such a database in relation to next year's Worldcon is likely to end up in serious trouble under the henkilötietolaki (which is what the Finns call their Data Protection legislation).

I know lots of people online have a touching faith that the First Amendment not only extends to lots of things which it was never intended to extend to within America, and that this mythical form of the First Amendment is a unviersal law for all times and all places, but if the "world" in Worldcon means anything, it has to include respecting local law of the venue. Especially when that comes with potential six- (and, after the GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018) eight-figure sums for violation.

Edited at 2016-08-22 06:15 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 24th, 2016 05:54 am (UTC)
"A collection of public knowledge based on what people did at past cons" is certainly personal data within the meaning of European data protection law. Whether it can be used depends on the circumstances in which it was collected, the knowledge (and in some cases consent) of the persons identifiable from it and the purposes for which it was used.
Aug. 27th, 2016 06:37 pm (UTC)
I don't know about grownup-run cons, but my experience with cons run by college students is that they struggle to keep track of the "this is how you run the con" documentation, much less anything else. I would hope cons with less turnover are better at such things . . . but I could believe that there are some of the same problems.
David Wilford
Aug. 23rd, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
It's not as if we need a database to know someone like Harlan Ellison is problematic for some. I myself witnessed some very rude behavior from Robert Sawyer on a panel at MidAmeriConII, enough that if I had been the target of it I would have complained to the concom about being the target of abuse. On the other hand, I had several interactions with a fan who I knew had been banned from another convention and he was quite decent with me at least. So maybe it's not a list we need as much as a way to inform people that they're being jerks and ask them to stop.
(Deleted comment)
David Wilford
Aug. 24th, 2016 03:50 pm (UTC)
I believe it's the person who is the target that gets to make the decision about making a complaint.
Aug. 24th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC)
Don't believe the legends
I know of no SF convention that's actually had a problem with Harlan Ellison for decades, if at all. Some have had problems with people who come to panels with the obvious intent of provoking Harlan, which is a different thing entirely.
Aug. 24th, 2016 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Don't believe the legends
You're forgotten about the incident at the 2006 Hugos, then.
Aug. 28th, 2016 02:44 am (UTC)
Re: Don't believe the legends
Well, 2006 - 2016 is one decade, anyhow. :-)

And I don't believe that I've heard of Ellison being an invited guest anywhere since then -- but I could easily be wrong, because I don't track him at all.
Aug. 21st, 2016 11:25 pm (UTC)
(My main thought was that in this particular case, Googling "Dave Truesdale" found your blog post as the first hit.. and the second was one that made my wife and I both look at it and exclaim "Oh, THAT fucking guy." Neither of us even recognized his name, but the SFWA incident rang a bell immediately. It may not be possible to check up on every panelist suggestion, but it also should not have been staggeringly difficult in this specific instance to garner a basic overview of the sort of behavior he was known for before appointing him as moderator. I also don't think it's unreasonable to due a brief search on people chosen [in advance] as moderators, since that's a fairly small pool by comparison, and, more importantly, they're going to be the ones responsible for *preventing* panels from turning into trash fires. Ostensibly.)
Aug. 22nd, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
"...in this particular case, Googling "Dave Truesdale" found your blog post as the first hit."

Is it wrong that I find this incredibly amusing?
Aug. 22nd, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
I think you deserve a little amusement at this point. ;)
Aug. 22nd, 2016 04:01 pm (UTC)
Jim C. Hines: Master of the Google-Fu.

Sir, I am impressed.
Aug. 22nd, 2016 06:43 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, the popularity also means that the LiveJournal post has accumulated some rather icky spam. :P
Aug. 22nd, 2016 06:49 pm (UTC)
Crap. I didn't see that. Deleted the comment in question, thank you!
Aug. 22nd, 2016 12:07 am (UTC)
Don't know if you've seen this, but Mary Robinette Kowal also ran up against the Code of Conduct -- and her reaction was a bit different.
Aug. 22nd, 2016 12:12 am (UTC)
I have, yes. But it was after I'd written and posted the follow-up.

The contrast between the two is damned striking, isn't it?
Aug. 22nd, 2016 01:16 am (UTC)
I'm reminded of a line from the Vorkosigan Saga (Mirror Dance, maybe?) to the effect of "Oh, so that's what integrity looks like."
Aug. 22nd, 2016 07:13 am (UTC)
Yes, _Mirror Dance_. Mark talking about Aral and Cordelia.
Aug. 22nd, 2016 11:10 pm (UTC)
The violation is a lot different, too, tho. Truesdale violated policy purposefully with the intent of creating drama. Even still, MRK, man. Everything I learn about her makes me love her a little more.
Aug. 22nd, 2016 11:06 pm (UTC)
I'm really starting to take issue with the idea that we should NOT shun or punish people for their beliefs. All of weak, sniveling, fragile, ignorant people who continually push against not-white, not-male creatives being acknowledged, who remain willfully blind to systemic issues? Maybe the SHOULD be banned from some spaces for what they believe, because what they believe, in addition to being factually incorrect, is genuinely damaging to the community, to individuals and to the arts of SF themselves.

...or, possibly I'm a drama queen. That all sounds horribly overwrought when I say it that way. But it is what I'm thinking.
Aug. 31st, 2016 08:12 pm (UTC)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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