Some Members are More Equal than Others

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.
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August 11, 2015

 

The Executive Committee of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, would like to address the matter of actions taken by Mr. Lou Antonelli with regards to one of our Guests of Honor, Mr. David Gerrold.

The statement continues on from there–the Executive Committee decided to turn the matter over to the Operations Head, Robbie Bourget, who did determine that Lou Antonelli did, in fact, violate Sasquan’s Code of Conduct. This conclusion was “inescapable”, according to the official statement.

And yet. Lou Antonelli has not been banned from Sasquan, even though that was the original decision of Operations.

Why not? Because Lou Antonelli apologized to David Gerrold and the apology was accepted and because Gerrold asked Sasquan not to ban him.

…and this is where I kind of lose it because Sasquan has publicly stated that Lou Antonelli violated their Code of Conduct to the point where they believed  a ban was in order but they’re letting him come anyhow on a single member’s say-so. Gerrold may be a Guest of Honor, but that doesn’t give him the right to have this sort of power; Sasquan can take his request under advisement, but they are responsible to the entire convention membership and that should be their primary concern. (Laura Resnick lays this out a lot better than I can in the comments at File 770.)

One of Gerrold’s quoted reasons is that Antonelli “deserves” to be able to attend the Hugo Awards because he’s a nominee.

The message I’m getting from Sasquan is that if you apologize enough, if you can convince the person you’ve harassed into accepting your apology, and if you’ve been nominated for an award, Codes of Conduct don’t apply to you. Especially if you’ve promised to be on your very best behavior and not do it again.  Because it’s not like you don’t have a track record of wildly overreacting to perceived slights and then behaving abusively.

We’ve all heard some variation of this over the last few years as more and more people have spoken up about the harassment and abuse they’ve endured at science fiction conventions.  Someone with an inflated sense of his own importance deliberately steps over the line, is called to account, and then they manage to not face consequences for their actions. At least not initially. In the cases of Readercon and Wiscon, there were eventually consequences for René Walling and Jim Frenkel. But it took a lot of work–mostly work by women and non-binary people–to make those consequences happen.

Sasquan, instead of making their convention safe for every member has, instead, made it safer for just one: Lou Antonelli.

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