On Saturday, Mark Oshiro detailed the negative experiences he had as a guest at last year’s ConQuesT on Facebook. Oshiro goes into detail about his negative experiences, and goes so far to name names of those responsible.
You should really read the entire post (seriously, go do it), but for me the most important part is what happened after the convention. You see, ConQuesT 46 had a harassment policy in place, so Oshiro reported the incidents to the staff. He went through the proper channels, and do you know what the convention did with this?
Well, if you guessed “Absolutely Nothing” you’d be right.
Writing down harassment policies are all well and good, but they are absolutely meaningless if nothing is done to enforce them. If offenders don’t get at least talked to, what exactly is the point? Without penalties any policy becomes meaningless, and that to me is alarming.
Don’t get me wrong, the actual harassment was alarming too, and the fact that in the second decade of the 21st century we’re still dealing with this kind of awfulness in con culture is worse. — But follow through is how we move towards correcting it, and we sorely need to.
In ConQuesT’s defense, current Convention Chair Keri O’Brien (who was not in charge during last year’s event) has publicly apologized for the incident and says the convention is taking steps to handle things better in the future.
Let’s hope they do.
Update (2/24): After a rather weak-sauce attempt at a public apology from the KaCSFFS Board of Directors, Mark Oshiro has posted an extensive follow up to his original post.
One of the things I’ve been happiest to see over the last half-decade is that the convention scene is finally starting to address the ongoing harassment problems which were traditionally swept under the rug. The community still has a long way to go, but it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing.
I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about a couple of ongoing situations though, and how they illustrate what’s exactly is happening right now — in 2016.
On this bigger than ever episode, Vinnk (of FamicomDojo.tv) is sitting in for Pher. We talk about the current state of Pacific Rim 2, the cancellation of Mythbusters, Donna Noble’s Doctor Who Audio Drama return, K-9 getting his own movie, IfCon Victoria disappearing into the night, the 2015 World Fantasy Convention coming to its senses, and SXSW’s complete and total bungling of its anti-Harassment summit.
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.
Earlier this week we reported on SXSW canceling both an anti-Harassment panel called “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games” and a pro-Gamergate panel called “#SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community,” citing unspecified threats of violence directed at at least one of the panels.
Well, after a lot of public controversy (not to mention both Buzzfeed and Vox Media threatening to pull out of the event), SXSW management has reportedly decided to reinstate the Anti-Harassment “Level-Up” panel.
According to Re/code, SXSW hasn’t actually reached out to the participants in the panel — but… y’know… details.
SXSW organizers are apparently also considering a day long event on combating online Harassment. While it’s great in theory, I have to wonder who exactly will volunteer to stand in the crosshairs of the online mob (who hasn’t done so already). Let’s face it, the online hoard of harassing jackasses have a habit of proving their critics right by attacking them the moment they stand up.
(No word on the Pro-Gamergate #SavePoint panel… but who really gives a crap about that? The organizers of that panel already have a plan to run it anyway independently of SXSW, so it really wouldn’t make a significant difference.)
Yesterday we reported on the controversy surrounding the 2015 World Fantasy Convention‘s highly flawed (read: awful) harassment policy. The policy effectively said that any reports of harassment to the staff would immediately be forwarded to law enforcement, and that no other real action would be taken by the staff.
This, of course, has a myriad of potential consequences — from limiting the convention’s definition of harassment to the legal definition to removing any real consequences for offenders (once you really think about it) to intimidating victims from reporting it in the first place. It was just bad. But with the convention only a week away, it seemed like attendees willing to brave the event would be stuck with it.
SXSW announced yesterday that they were cancelling the anti-Harassment panel “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.” Level Up would have featured the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative‘s Randi Harper alongside Caroline Sinders and Katherine Cross. The panel (according to its official description) would have focused on “online harassment in gaming and geek culture, how to combat it, how to design against it, and how to create online communities that are moving away from harassment.”
Oh, they also cancelled the pro-Gamergate “#SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community,” but we don’t care too much about that.
Update: Amazingly, the World Fantasy Convention 2015 committee is fixing this and adopting a better policy. The original story appears below.
It’s only been in the last few years that a spotlight’s been pointed at the harassment issues that exist in the convention community. It’s not a new problem, but the fact is it’s one a large percentage of the public were completely unaware of.
While the issue is far from solved, most community conscious conventions have decided to stand up for victims, and have begun adopting stronger, clearer anti-harassment policies. Frankly, creating a safe space for attendees to enjoy themselves is a key responsibility of any convention staff, and preventing harassment in the community is vital for its survival.
Well, the people running the 2015 World Fantasy Convention have taken a different tack. In a recent mailing to its members, they sent out their new harassment policy.
Yale Stewart, the creator of the webcomic JL8,is at the center of not one but two scandals right now… and it’s kind of amazing when you parse it out. I mean, we are literally spanning the gamut of artistic integrity to dick-pics here.