SXSW Screws Up Harassment Summit Announcement, Does Everything Wrong

SXSW has pretty much been determined to do whatever they can to make a bad situation worse these days. Earlier this week we talked about how SXSW had cancelled anti-harassment panel “Level Up” (and awful Gamergate panel “#Savepoint”) after claiming to have received undisclosed threats. This was, of course, after the participants of Level Up had already been through a pretty awful process to start with.

We thought that organizers had come to their senses when it was reported that “Level Up” was being reinstated, and that organizers were considering an all day summit on harassment. It looked like everything was coming up Millhouse.

Only it wasn’t.

Earlier today SXSW put out a statement finally announcing their summit, and they borked it up in the worst way possible. It starts out harmless enough — they say the summit will be March 12th, and that the event will be live streamed online. Then you get to this:

The summit will include Randi Harper, Katherine Cross and Caroline Sinders from “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games,” as well as Perry Jones, Mercedes Carrera, and Lynn Walsh from “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community.” We are working with both groups to develop the most productive focus for their appearances.

If you were surprised that Level Up participants had agreed to be on the same panel as open Gamergate supporters, you weren’t the only ones. The Level Up panelists were pretty damned surprised too. Caroline Sinders put out the following statement via twitter:

Katherine Cross, also listed in the SXSW announcement as participating, tweeted out the following as well:

Randi Harper seems the least negative in her response, yet is still also unwilling to confirm participation.

Re/code has some further statements, but the entire thing is nuts. Why would SXSW announce panelists without being sure they’d be willing to participate in the same event? Why do they insist on pretending that the harassed and their harassers are just two sides to the same coin? How is it possible that an event this big has managed to be this absolutely tone deaf?

It’s all kind of amazing.

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

One thought on “SXSW Screws Up Harassment Summit Announcement, Does Everything Wrong

  • October 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Something tells me that they were hoping by doubling back people would be OK. But, man that whole thing is a hot mess.


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