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?

Harassment at an Anime Convention – some thoughts

The Journey of Fandom Facebook group has a post about the woes and rumors of woes surrounding Anime Matsuri. It sounds like the convention could use, at least, some help organizing things.

The first comment on the Facebook post is:

[Ron Newman] should it surprise me that the ‘Lolita community’ (whose existence I was unaware of until today) might attract sexual harassers?

This seems to be one of the things you’re not allowed to say. The immediate response (well, 3 minutes later) is:

[Marc Brunco] I hope you’re not trying to imply that wearing Lolita fashion is to blame for being sexually harassed?

Which causes Ron Newman to back down, tail between his legs. He rallies a bit with:

[Ron Newman] it does strike me as a community whose events should be run entirely by women, though.

No, you’re not allowed to say that, either:

[Evan Reeves] See, but even that is sexist. Do not attach gender to behavior. There is nothing wrong with men enjoying and participating in Gothic Lolita fashion. There is a BIG problem with anyone harassing others, especially sexual harassment.

Well, I guess it’s cool that we can no longer label men as harassers, or even likely harassers, since that, too, attaching gender to behavior and is therefore sexist.

Phooey.

Guys, there is a concept in the law called “an attractive nuisance”. This is defined as any feature which would tend to lure people into a dangerous situation. The classic examples include a swimming pool. It is attractive because people like to swim and play in the water. It’s a nuisance because sometimes people drown in said water.

So the swimming pool analog of Marc Brunco’s comment is, “I hope you’re not trying to imply that wearing Lolita fashion wanting to go swimming is to blame for being sexually harassed drowning?”

Um…. no.

For the Lost In Space fans, that’s not what he’s saying. The presence of a “Lolita community” can very easily be seen as an attractive nuisance. (Perhaps even in the sense Jubal Harshaw uses the term.)  It’s not the fault of members of this community if and when they are harassed.

It is, however, the fault of people who have the job of recognizing possible problems at an event. They should be aware that they are maintaining an attractive nuisance, and should take steps to anticipate and prevent problems, and to deal with them quickly and effectively if and when they occur anyway. But if social mores prevent us from recognizing when an attractive nuisance exists, we can’t take steps to anticipate and prevent problems.

So in the modern sensibilities, convention organizers are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. They’re not allowed to recognize the possibility of trouble that might be drawn to particular groups, but Campbell help them if said trouble happens anyway.