It came to my attention today that the programming for this year’s Odyssey Con has a couple of folks who’ve engaged in antisocial behavior at Wiscon. Specifically Richard Russell and Jim Frenkel.
I’ve attended Wiscon for years, and have personally experienced and witnessed behavior from both of these men that does not support the ideals to which I hope we all subscribe. Russell has, for years, made explicitly and openly racist remarks during panels he ran. Frenkel has serially harassed multiple women for years and was finally successfully reported for it.
Neither of these men behave in a manner that supports an open convention that welcomes all fans.
To accept them at your convention is a worthy thing to do. They can continue to grow and change and become the better human beings we all hope them to be, in a community where they have not yet acted so poorly. I thank you and your convention for this; everyone deserves a space in which they can try to improve.
But I am concerned about them being on your programming. That seems to indicated a certain level of endorsement of them, and their views, that I find troubling. Particularly when Frenkel in on a panel about how to be an adult, and Russell is on a panel about social justice going too far. I am concerned that they will … double down, if you will, on their previous positions.
None of us can know the future, of course. And I always hope for the best, from everyone. But I would hate for Odyssey Con to find itself in the midst of another controversy with these men at the center. And I would hate for your guests of honor to develop a poor opinion of Midwest fandom.
And I would hate, above both those things, for your attendees to suffer harassment or worse from panelists you selected, for those attendees to slink away from fandom ashamed and hurt and humiliated, unsure of what they did to draw such negative attention from men Odyssey Con put in positions of power and authority.
I hope, very much, that you have assurances that you can believe from Frenkel and Russell. I hope, very much, that you know, completely, that they will not harass or molest anyone at your convention.
I am concerned. I hope my concerns are groundless.
I wish you all the best,
(I just emailed this to firstname.lastname@example.org, Alex Merrill, Janet Lewis, and email@example.com, Greg Rihn.)
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