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:
— feminist female (@carolinesinders) October 30, 2015
Katherine Cross, also listed in the SXSW announcement as participating, tweeted out the following as well:
Suffice it to say: the fact that one of my co-panelists is being harassed by one of SXSW's other invitees does not give me confidence.
— Katherine Cross (@Quinnae_Moon) October 30, 2015
Randi Harper seems the least negative in her response, yet is still also unwilling to confirm participation.
We are still not confirmed to be speaking at SXSW's summit on Online Harassment.
— Randi Lee Harper (@randileeharper) October 30, 2015
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.