Burdens of Proof

Brad R. Torgersen writes on the disinviting of convention guests of honor, based on what they might do.

I won’t devote too much time to rehashing this past week’s slanderous sabotaging of Larry Correia (at Origins) which bore an eerie similarity to the slanderous sabotaging of John Ringo (at ConCarolinas.) In each instance, it was a political hit job. And in each instance, there was no proof offered to substantiate the lies which preceded both Larry’s and John’s disinviting.

What’s concerning is that conventions — indeed, almost all institutions of various descriptions — are being placed in the position of either bending to the will of what are essentially mobs, or facing threats of both bad PR and, potentially, painful legal annoyance. In each case, the institutions almost always take the path of least resistance. It’s far easier to eject a guest who has attracted the mob’s attention, than stand your ground and endure the mob’s ire; as a “defender” of the alleged wrong-doer.

None of this — in 2018 — happens without social media, of course. One might argue that Social Justice Zealotry could not exist without the anonymity and virility that social media provides. Pick your target from behind the safety of your keyboard, light the digital torch, rally your friends to the cause, and off you go to pillory whichever offending party suits your fancy this week. Proof? A preponderance of evidence? P’shaw! Mere legal trickery by the hated cishet white male misogynist transphobic patriarchy! Everybody knows that villains use proof and evidence to hide from justice. It’s time for more direct and drastic steps to be taken, so as to ensure that the evil-doers are brought to heel!

I think by now the professional consensus is that Origins committed a huge blunder, by disinviting Larry Correia. The plaintiffs didn’t have to like Larry, nor did they have to like his politics. But Larry had done absolutely nothing to warrant disinvitation. There were no provable violations of any code of conduct Origins might have put forth. Larry was simply . . . kicked out, because a pack of SJZs wanted him kicked out.

That’s a rotten precedent for any institution — regardless of its mission — to set. Letting an unaccountable gaggle of shit-slingers decide who can and cannot be a guest at your convention?

During a separation board’s deliberations, the question must be asked: did the institution itself obey its own rules, regarding the gathering and presentation of evidence, and is this evidence in fact qualified such that it can be taken as legal fact — versus merely the say-so of specific individuals who may or may not have been under oath, when they said what they said?

I hope that conventions (going forward) might begin to ask themselves similar questions, with similar emphasis on the disqualification of rumor, speculation, political hatchetry, slander, character assassination, and other forms of dishonesty. Any institution which expects to enjoy the participation of guests and consumers alike, needs to be able to forge an atmosphere of trust.

At a recent LASFS board meeting, the topic of conventions responding very badly to complaints came up. I suggested the first rule of dealing with any complaint of this sort is, “Don’t Panic”. Perhaps the decision makers should be issued towels?

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