Missing Stairs, Redemption Arcs, Personal Relationships: What the Hell Are We Doing

Megan Frank posted why she quit Sasquan right before the convention.

It was because Lou Antonelli called in fake threats to the Spokane police, and Sasquan let him come to the convention anyway.

It’s more complicated than that. I strongly urge you to read all of the pdf Megan provided before commenting.

Natalie Luhrs has an excellent survey of the situation here.

A number of people on Twitter have said that the goal of a convention harassment policy is to protect convention attendees. It is NOT to provide a space for the accused harasser to repent, apologize, or redeem themselves.

Harassment policies are to protect people from being harassed.

I agree with this. I want the missing stairs rooted out, I want my friends and acquaintances to be free of threat in our social venues. I have decades in fandom of helping cover for missing stairs by just passing the information along, word of mouth, like we always do — and then being unintentionally complicit when the next person is harassed.

I hate this. I want convention harassment policies that remove serial harassers from my goddamn conventions.

Yet I also want a space for redemption.

I want a path for apology, learning, restitution, and redemption to exist SOMEWHERE in out community. I want this because I have erred in the past. Because people I know and trust have erred in the past. Because I have been wrongfully accused of harassment in the course of interpersonal drama. Because people I know and trust have been wrongfully accused of harassment in the course of interpersonal drama.

The problem as I see it is this:

We all use our judgment in assessing harassment situations.

The saving grace as I see it is this:

We all use our judgment in assessing harassment situations.

ANY system established by ANY convention or organization is vulnerable to malicious actors. You cannot make a perfect system in which all harassers are thrown out of public life and no false accusations are upheld.

I strongly, strongly urge all of you pondering these situations to contemplate — how well does your convention root out serial harassers? How easy is it for those who feel unsafe to come forward? What is the standard of evidence? Does the word of a friend count more than the word of a stranger? Do you have a method for people to recuse themselves when they inevitably know one or more of the actors? How does someone who is wrongly accused go about clearing their name? What is the length of banishment? How does community service factor in, while still protecting victims? Where is the space for honest regret and apology? How many times can a person regret and apologize and do it again before they run out of chances? How many false accusations can a person raise before they are deemed a problem?

Whose judgment will you rely on? Who does your process defend? Who has to do the most work, the accuser or the accused?

When you make a convention harassment policy, think of all of these things. Protect the victims of harassment. Protect most of the attendees most of the time from most things most people deem harmful. And think about your own mistakes. Ponder the people you know, your relationships, your judgment.

When it comes time to level your harassment policy in the field, it won’t be against some nameless, faceless pawn in an SF/F culture war. It will be people you know, people you thought you knew, people you thought you respected. It will be people you owe something to, people who have done you favors. It will be people who hurt you a long time ago, people you swore to never speak to again. Your convention must be able to deal with all of these situations. It must deal fairly with ALL PARTIES.

I believe Megan’s accounting of events. I find Robbie Bourget’s prioritization of Antonelli’s rehabilitation over the convention’s safety to be reprehensible. I also am profoundly fucking grateful that I was not the person making those decisions. What if it were one of my friends who had fucked up? Could I ban a friend, or even an acquaintance, of twenty years from CONvergence based on a stupid, asinine decision they apologized for?

I have no idea, y’all.

I really have no idea.


The 2015 Hugo Awards

The 2015 Hugo Awards were held last night in Spokane.

The results are here.

The results are a complete repudiation of the Puppies slates. Non-Puppy candiates won, where available, and No Awards won where no other choices existed.

Tobias Buckell has a look at who would have won, if not for the shenanigans.

WIRED Magazine has a decent write-up about why this matters.

Chuck Wendig has lovely screed of joy up at his blog.

I will note that “Jackalope Wives,” by Ursula Vernon, would have led the short story nominations were it not for the Puppies. I am smug about that.

Congratulations, Hugo winners!

Congratulations SF/F fans. Keep on being awesome. I look forward to enjoying the future with all y’all.



The new Civil Rights Movement, you are in it right now

This week I saw the Retweet:

“If you ever wondered what it would be like to live in the Civil Rights Movement, and what role you would play, you are in it right now.”

— @ShaunKing

It’s time to witness.

“This was the new Jim Crow” – an oral history of the Ferguson protests


Ferguson activitsts DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie among those arrested in St. Louis


Ferguson Forward: Jamilah Lemieux reports from Ferguson on a hauntingly familiar scene of unrest

‘It’s a kick in the gut,’ Ferguson leader says of violence, shooting


Ferguson anniversary: Tyrone Harris charged with assault

St. Louis County declared state of emergency







Evil or stupid, which are you?

I have a pretty strong inclination to stay out of internet fights. I don’t feed the trolls. I block people and put emails into the spam oubliette and I don’t mention it or discuss it. I don’t call out most assholes. I figure a big part of what they want is validation for their insecurities. I won’t be a prop in the inner lives of petty would-be tyrants.

But I also recognize that this silence allows people to continue their behavior in the comfortable illusion that they are 1) getting away with it or 2) the agreed-with majority or 3) whatever delusion makes them feel happy and safe.

Now, mostly I don’t care what delusions make anybody else happy and safe. I harbor and cherish my own, and you can keep yours, and that’s just fine. And I mostly don’t get into fights with maliciously-intentioned idiots who view getting into arguments as a delightful hobby, who are gleeful when their targets fight back.

Not worth my time.

Yet, lest you maliciously intentioned idiots think you are getting away with something, I feel I should make a few points.

1. Lou Antonelli, your half-hearted vague pseudo-apology is noted, and it is not accepted. You are either a malicious actor who incites violence towards others or you are a fucking moron. You SWATed Worldcon, you dumb-as-fuck ignorant dipshit.

Evil or stupid, take your pick.

2. Will Shetterly, yesterday I watched you jump into a conversation to which you were not invited on Twitter merely to restart a years-old argument with someone while inviting that person’s stalker to join the conversation. You’ve been around the internet longer than I have. When I joined Usenet groups in the 90s you were the example of what assholes look like online. You were the cautionary tale, the “don’t be this guy, he is a fucking asshole.” You are, twenty years later, still behaving the same way. You are either a malicious actor bent on harm, or you are willfully ignorant and refusing to learn any decent rules of online interaction.

Evil or stupid. You are either evil or stupid or both, an option I have not ruled out.

[EDIT TO ADD]3. Lou Antonelli’s assholery toward another person.

Is this feeding the trolls? Possibly. But I see you two, out there in the world, actively causing harm and refusing to behave otherwise. The silence of the community does not mean we agree with you. It doesn’t mean you are getting away with it. It just means you are mostly not worth our time.

But as an ally to your targets and victims, I want THEM to know that I see and I do not fucking approve.

Mikki? I see what he did and I do not approve.
David? I see what he did, and I do not approve.
Carrie? I see what he did, and I do not approve.
Aaron? I see what he did, and I do not approve.



This isn’t a conversation with the evil or the stupid. You’re all spammed, because I have better things to do with my time. Go have the conversation on your own blogs, AS I DID HERE WITH MINE.

If you vanity-Google yourself, or have alerts for your name, may your life choices bring you all the joy you have earned.


Taking things in, observing, pondering

1. Watching

Pillars of the Earth, and Poldark, and Monarchy. And Killjoys and Gravity Falls and Steven Universe and Dark Matter. Mostly pondering material culture.

It has gotten to the point where anytime a table is smashed, or a shirt is torn, or a goblet is crushed, I wince at the sheer fuck-tonnage of work-hours that are needed to replace it.

2. Listening

I’ve expanded my podcasts to include:

Rachel and Miles XPlain the X-Men
Stuff You Missed in History
Backstory with the American History Guys
Stuff Mom Never Told You
The Hidden Almanac
Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap
The Mystery Show (on hiatus)
Down and Safe
Knit Picks
Welcome to Nightvale
I Don’t Even Own a Television
The Worst Bestsellers
Serial (on hiatus)
The British History Podcast
The Cornell Collective
Our Fair City
BBC’s The Conversation
History of the Papacy

3. Reading

The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell
Round About the Earth, Joyce E. Chaplin
Salt, Mark Kurlansky
Black Count, Tom Reid

4. Keeping Up With

Ferguson and the new police brutality this week.
Lou Antonelli’s jackassery and threats to members of the SFF community. What a dickweasel.
The continued and ongoing harassment of women, people of color, and women of color, especially online
The continued weirdness surrounding the dissolution of the Ada Initiative

5. Making

simple lace scarf
finished a hat
trying to get all my skeins wound into balls

6. Planning

next year’s garden
next knitting project


I’m not having a lot of output right now. A lot of reading, listening, taking things in, pondering. Mulling things over and assimilating them.

What’s on your mind, internets? What are you thinking of, this fine Monday morning?



The tv series, Killjoys: space pirate bounty hunters!

Spoilers for the ongoing tv series Killjoys follow —

Spoilers! Spoilers ahoy!


I’ve been watching the new SyFy series Killjoys. I keep talking about it on Twitter, where I describe it as a Firefly-inspired Shadowrun-lite RPG by someone who LOVED the old tv show Dark Angel. If that sounds good to you, go ye forth and watch it immediately. (I am watching it on Amazon streaming, where I bought the season.)

Things I like:

— The lead, Dutch. Dutch is played by actress Hannah John-Kamen. Dutch is a certified badass with a mysterious and painful backstory which provides one of the ongoing plots. If you liked Max on Dark Angel, you will like Dutch.

— The showrunner, Michelle Lovretta, was also the creator of Lost Girl, everyone’s favorite urban fantasy about a bisexual polyamorous succubus detective and her friends. If you like your relationships complicated and multi-faceted, you will like this show.

— Aaron Ashmore and Luke Macfarlane are excellent actors who bring depth and nuance to their scenes.

— The world-building is really nice. This is what Firefly meant to do. I mean, Killjoys is like what happens when a writer LOVED Firefly and thought the world-building was facile and surficial, and decided to make a better setting for their characters.

— In the way that all science fiction is actually about the time in which it is written, Killjoys spends nearly all its time talking about class. About money and power and privilege. About who has it and who does not. Class and race are, in fact, conflated, with prejudice against people of lower class from certain planets being referred to as racism. This is the part of the show I keep watching avidly. The construction of privilege.

Dutch, you see, was raised in a royal creche, but was raised to be an assassin. We do not know as of episode seven whether or not she is herself royalty. (It is implied that she is, but the plot could still go either way.) Dutch has given up ALL of her connections. She operates under an assumed name, she avoids all of her past. She is actively hiding from her old teacher.

Yet Dutch can’t help having the experiences and teaching of her youth. She has <em>manners</em>. She knows references. She has cultural capitol, and the members of The Nine (the ruling families) recognize this. People in The Nine like Dutch. They respond to her. They treat her better than they treat other lower-class folks.

Relatedly, the doctor — Simms, is that her name? — is from The Nine. But she  is slumming. She is fighting with her family and is spending her time doing good deeds for the needy. She’s the college kid who ran off to do Teach For America, and whose family isn’t speaking to her, yet she still retains many of the rights and privileges of her class. When she wields her family name she has access to services and goods that others do not have. Of course there is a cost for this — it pulls her back into the system she is taking a vacation from. But the power is still there to wield.

— This show is almost entirely about who owns whom. It’s about who owns work, who owns bodies. There is a plot about surrogate mothers. There is a plot about mind control. There is a plot about contract labor. People own other people, in Killjoys, however politely it might be called something else.

And there has not been a rape plot yet.

In fact, I can’t recall rape as a threat, as a plot point, as even a hint. There might have been a lascivious look from a man with a gun? Maybe? I’m not remembering it clearly, though.

This is a conscious choice on the part of the showrunners, and I fucking APPROVE. People are bought and sold, they live and die at the economic advantage of The Nine, but rape doesn’t even seem to be considered an option.

— The tl;dr is, I am really enjoying Killjoys. It’s complicatedly dystopian, well-thought-out, and is full of very pretty people being space pirate bounty hunters.

Space pirate bounty hunters, people! C’mon! Doesn’t that sound like a good time?



Cancelling convention plans

For work-related reasons, I will not be able to attend Worldcon or Geek Girl Con this year.

This is not my idea of a good time, and I hate cancelling plans. But work is work.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,554 other followers