Ross, the Hugos and the Oscars

I don’t pay a lot of attention to British TV and the celebrities that work on it. I’ve been out of the country a lot in past years. Much TV “light entertainment” is deeply transphobic so I prefer to avoid it. And I’m suspicious of anything the media says about celebrities on the grounds that most of it, good and bad, is probably manufactured in some way.

My knowledge of Jonathan Ross, therefore, is somewhat limited. But here are some things I do know.

He’s a lifelong comics fan who used to co-own a comic shop in London. He has written a science fiction comic. His wife, Jane Goldman, won a Hugo for the script of the film, Stardust, and he’s a bit jealous of that.

There’s controversy, of course. That’s pretty much par for the course for TV celebrities. He’s even been yelled at for telling transphobic jokes. But an interesting thing happened in that case. Hearing of the incident, Neil Gaiman had a word with Ross, who agreed to meet with Roz Kaveney and educate himself on trans issues. He ended up apologizing and doing an interview with META, a now-defunct trans magazine edited by Paris Lees.

In my view, that puts Ross well ahead of most high profile UK comedians (honorable exception for Eddie Izzard as always). It puts him ahead of Jared Leto. And it puts him ahead of most of the celebrity white feminists that I regularly see being praised in my tweet stream.

I should note also that I take a fairly relaxed view of who is an acceptable person to have around. The reason for that is that if I objected to everyone who had ever been transphobic I wouldn’t have many people left I could speak to. Besides, most people don’t give a fuck if trans people are offended. I have to survive in the world, and that means dealing with a lot of people I would rather not give the time of day to.

Case in point: everyone was expecting Leto to win the Oscar, so there was a lot of speculation amongst the trans community as to whether he would acknowledge the role that he played and the struggles of real life trans women. As it turned out, he very carefully avoided any mention of it. Apparently even uttering the word “transgender” was deemed too offensive for the Oscars audience. My tweet stream has been full of fury from other trans people. And yet his speech is being lauded, not just as the best of the night, but “beyond perfect”.

So to my mind Ross is a pretty good candidate for a Hugo ceremony host. He’s a genuine fan with a lot of respect for the awards. He’s also got a huge media profile and would have got us lots of press coverage. He has, on the one occasion I know of, engaged respectfully with a minority group that was upset with one of his shows. And hosting award ceremonies is something he has done professionally.

I understand that he had agreed to do the job without pay, which I think says a lot about how he felt about the Hugos.

However, one of the things about intersectionality is that you need to take note of what other people think. Just because you have no problem with someone, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does. You have to listen to what others say, and respect their points of view. So while I would have been happy with Ross as the host, I have to take into account that many other people object very strongly to him because of things he has said or done in the past.

The thing is that this is a conversation that should have been had within the Loncon 3 convention committee — initially in the Executive Committee, and if that proved highly contentious then perhaps with the wider staff group. This conversation should have taken place before the invitation was issued. (Kevin reminds me that for ConJosé we discussed Guests of Honor and Toastmaster amongst the entire bid committee and allowed members a veto on any suggestion.) If you are going to involve someone potentially controversial, you need to be sure that you have the support of the bulk of your team.

I’m not going to comment further on what went wrong in the committee because I have not been privy to any of the discussions, nor have I talked directly to any of those involved. However, I cannot understand how anyone involved thought that it was appropriate to resolve the issue via a flame war in social media.

As I said, I’m perfectly happy with the argument that Ross is an inappropriate person for the job if a large number of people would be uncomfortable with his presence. We don’t want nominees unwilling to attend the ceremony because they are afraid of what the host might say to them. But the conversation around Ross did not restrict itself to that issue. I’d like to address some of the other things that were said.

Firstly, some people appeared to not want Ross involved because of the press coverage it would have given us. The idea seemed to be that we shouldn’t want the media to notice us because of the embarrassing things they might write about us. This, I think, is a fundamental error. You cannot hide from the media, especially these days when newspapers are happy to take “comment” pieces from anyone (because they don’t pay them). What’s more, I think that only by accepting that everything we do is going to be subject to constant media scrutiny can we learn to behave sensibly and not, for example, take things that Dave Truesdale says seriously. Whenever we get angry about something, we should always think, “How is the press going to spin this?”

Secondly a lot of people appeared to be saying that Ross was unsuitable as a Hugo ceremony host because he was not a proper fan, by which they meant that he had not attended conventions regularly down the years. The view was that only someone who had been a beloved member of the fannish community for some time should be given the honor of hosting the ceremony.

As someone who has been a regular target of accusations of being a “fake fan” and “not part of our community” in the past, I take this sort of thing seriously. It felt like I was back in 1997 again and being accused of “destroying fandom” though my evil habit of writing book reviews online.

I note that Loncon 3 is set to be the largest Worldcon in decades, perhaps the largest ever. There will be a lot of people for whom it will be their first ever convention. It worries me a lot to see the whole “not part of our community” thing raising its ugly head again. Science fiction is mainstream now. It does not belong to us anymore, and trying to pretend that it does will only make us look ridiculous.

I didn’t attend the last UK Worldcon in part because I expected I would get a very unpleasant reception from many of the attendees. I am not on the committee of this one because of the way I was treated while working on the last one. I have, however, been trying to help when I can behind the scenes, and I have been promoting the event. I am beginning to think that was a mistake, and that I should walk away from fandom and not look back. It is not like I don’t have other things to do with my life.

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50 Responses to Ross, the Hugos and the Oscars

  1. Richard Johnson says:

    Well said, Cheryl.

    Regards
    Richard

  2. You said “I am beginning to think … that I should walk away from fandom and not look back. It is not like I don’t have other things to do with my life.”

    I am hearing that from all sorts of directions at the moment. Including from inside my own head.

    • David Gullen says:

      Same over here. I’ve at least one friend who has now done exaclty that. As for me, at the moment I really feel like I’ve had enough.

    • Liz Williams says:

      Not the only one, Juliet!

      • John Medany says:

        Yep – I’ve pretty much now decided that walking away from all this for a while is the bast option

        • Nik Whitehead says:

          Myself also. It’s sad, but I think that walking away from it might be the only sensible response.

    • Glenn Glazer says:

      Speaking only for myself, I think it would be terribly sad and a painful loss if people left the community I love because of the bad actions of a few bad actors.

  3. CE Murphy says:

    I am beginning to think that was a mistake, and that I should walk away from fandom and not look back.

    This.

  4. Cheryl, the answer to “I cannot understand how anyone involved thought that it was appropriate to resolve the issue via a flame war in social media” is that (as I understand it) the chairs of Loncon 3 made it clear to committee and staff that this was a privileged decision to which they would brook no opposition, and Farah Mendlesohn — who had been making every effort to have a private “conversation [about it] within the Loncon 3 convention committee” — responded with a measured blog post in which she announced that she was resigning from the executive committee, as she could not in good conscience stay on board and profess support for the choice of Jonathan Ross. It was this post, with its links to coverage of some Ross’s less attractive public behavior in recent years, which prompted much of the criticism the Loncon committee received in the hours immediately following their announcement of Ross.

    Whatever you think of Ross’s other critics, I think it’s obvious that Farah’s behavior, which involved flaming nobody, was a long way from “attempt[ing] to resolve the issue via a flame war in social media.” I’m sure you don’t intend to suggest that she behaved in any manner other than honorably.

    • Cheryl says:

      Patrick. The email I have from Farah explicitly says: “It is not too late to change this, even if we have to embarrass Mr Ross into withdrawing.” That is explicitly asking for a social media storm.

      Now I accept that Farah felt that she had been backed into a corner and had no other recourse. The blame for that may well lie with the L3 Chairs for refusing to discuss the issue (I’ve only had Farah’s side of the story, which is why I’m hedging.)

      I refer also to my comments above about how such spats will be seen by the wider world, in particular the media.

      Having seen the nature of some of the comments, I’m also not sure that the whole mess would not have happened anyway, even if the L3 committee had been united in its decision to invite Ross.

      So it’s complicated, and I don’t think assigning blame to anyone will help at this point. I do hope, however, that we can learn to avoid such things in the future.

    • Bernard Peek says:

      We haven’t really had enough time for society to adapt to the written word so expecting us to be able to manage Internet reporting is expecting a lot. The pattern goes like this.

      Someone posts something mildly offensive to some people in an obscure forum.

      Someone else disagrees snarkily and with hyperbole.

      Someone else ramps up the adrenaline levels by misreporting it, probably because they don’t understand the people or the issues. But they do know it brings eyeballs to their advertisers.

      In reality Ross could quite possibly have done a good job and thoroughly enjoyed himself. We’ll never know. The problem may be that although Ross might not be a fuckwit, he does play one on TV.

  5. Thanks for this. I think it’s important to remind people when something like this blows up that it’s not always a case of taking one side, or the other. It’s usually more complicated than that, and yet complexity is the first thing we seem to lose track of when everyone talks over each other.

    I really appreciated your post, and your perspectives on intersectionality.

  6. Pete Sutton says:

    My major concern on this is the trial by twitter/public opprobium. Whether this was Farah’s intention or not it is the result of the publicisation of the issue via the “why I quit my chair” posting.

    Is it a storm in a tea cup? in this case probably not – a very public with us or against us attitude that does nothing but damage the fan community

  7. Laurel Krahn says:

    Very well said. I’ve been trying to come up with more to say on the Ross-Hugos thing and you hit a couple of points I wanted to make far better than I could’ve. And added some more excellent points.

    I, for one, hope you stick around fandom, but I understand the feeling you’re having. Been there myself quite a few times.

  8. Debbie Moorhouse says:

    We can all sit quietly destroying Science Fiction at home instead….

  9. Hayley says:

    I think you’re so very right. There was a way to handle this, and when the people in the room at our staff meeting responded predominantly with ‘WTF?’ to the announcement of Ross, that was the time to *not* go public with it. Instead the discussion was shut down with ‘We were concerned too but we’ve checked him out and we’ve decided it’s fine’. Now we’ve lost a lot of the goodwill we worked so hard to build around inclusivity with two different sets of people, both by announcing him (and thus ‘saying women are unwelcome’) and by withdrawing (‘exiling a fellow fan’). Such a shame.

  10. Paul Oldroyd says:

    As someone who walked away from fandom – or at least conventions – some time ago (simply because of the cost of staying involved) I would say that leaving isn’t an all or nothing thing. Most of my friendships are still the ones I developed through fandom and at this stage in my life I’m fairly confident they always will be.

    And to be honest, I now think that there’s a lot out here in the world that’s much more important than the politics of a small group of people (fun though dabbling in that used to be).

    But – good post Cheryl. The clear problem was that the discussion didn’t happen in the wider committee. I’ve no idea why it didn’t, but as someone who’s chaired more than a few conventions I’ve made a mistakes in the past and understand the pressures. They didn’t deserve the trial by Twitter. The reality is (as ever) a little more nuanced.

  11. Farah Mendlesohn says:

    To note:

    Cheryl is my friend. So are other people who have disagreed with me here. So are the members of the committee. Nothing that happens has changed that for me.

  12. Morgan Gallagher says:

    Farah’s posts did not start the wave off. The announcement about Ross started the wave off.

    People were responding, in dismay and disbeleif, directly to LonCon 3′s tweet about Ross. In fact, what happened is precisely what Farah had warned about: don’t do this without consultation as there will be controversy. People were tweeting in seconds that they were not coming to the convention because of this decision and wanted to know how they got their money back.

    Further, Ross’s responses to people added immense fuel to the fire. Thus proving that he was unsuitable in the first place. Because when people started to critcise the decision, he directly replied calling them names etc.

    I have immense sympathy with Ross. He lives in a media bubble where his obnoxious behaviour is both applauded, and paid for, by those who tell him it’s okay as he’s really a nice bloke. But he performs his sexist behaviour in a culture where those not privy to living in such a rich bubble, have to live with the daily fall out of such attitudes in their work and homes. He gets away with appalling beahviour (and sometimes doesn’t get away with it) as he’s a ‘nice bloke’ who knows how to make it okay in his own circle. But the behaviour is not acceptable to many. That’s his appeal – he manages to say, and do, the not acceptable with just enough bravado and charm, that it’s (mostly) neutralised. He’s paid to be on the edge of what is acceptable, and make it funny and safe and just uncomfortable. He’s crossed that line a couple of times but has used his charm, intelligence and wit to claw it back, Every Single Time. The basis of his career is that he says, and does, the unacceptable, particulalry in regard to women, beauty and sex.

    And this is why it needed discussion, and agreement. Not to be inflicted from on high, with no space for the opposing view.

    The chairs of Loncon 3, in my opinion, pulled this down on their own heads. The issue is not about Ross: it’s about there not being any discussion around Ross, being allowed. Who knows? Maybe the committee would have gone round twelve bells and decided that yes, it was risky, but in the balance he should come. They may have decided it was too big a risk to make. They may have decided how to handle the problems before the announcement was made: they may have made the announcement in a different way.

    Who knows how it might have panned out? But the dicussion never took place. And that’s the issue. The lack of consultation, the knowing that it was going to cause some people problems, the carrying on regardless.

    As for leaving fandom behind. Why, it’s a move in move out feast. You don’t need to stay for all the courses, and you can always drop back round later for coffeee. I’ve spent more time ‘outside’ fandom than in it: can’t say I’ve noticed it making much difference in any way. Especially not know, with the very social media that’s allowing this conversation to take place. :-)

    • Cheryl says:

      One of the things I’d like to know more about, is who knew what when inside the committee. I get the impression that there had been some discussion of the issue internally before the announcement was made, though possibly very one-way discussion. Personally I would be very reluctant to issue a press release if I knew that would immediately lead to one of my senior officers making a very public resignation.

      • Morgan Gallagher says:

        I’d be very reluctant to do a press release about a man that had been banned from the BBC for three months due to offensive bullying of an individual, concerning gratuitous sexual descriptions of that person’s grand-daughter … “he fucked your grandaughter… she was bent over a couch” and discussions about whether or not she was menstruating whilst Brand had sex with her… without the clear backing of the majority of the committee doing all the work.

        And a very clear policy of handling any expected flack, which included discussing the issue with the guest himself and getting agreement on how it would be handled.

        “Oh look, he’s dead famous for being naughty and rude in a nice way, what brilliant publicity for the con!”

        “Oh wait, how to manage any reaction to his being dead famous for being naughty and rude!”

        One thing that deffo doesn’t apply ‘tho is “Oh dear, if only we’d known some people might get really upset.”

        *head desk*

    • Anna fdd says:

      I reacted with incredulity at the news about Jonathan Ross before I saw Farah’s post.

      I’m sorry it got nasty but I felt like a bomb was dropped and now people are going around saying what’s the fuss? It was just a bomb! Well, quite. In other words, what Morgan said.

  13. Twilight2000 says:

    Leaving fandom: we would ALL be the poorer for that.

  14. Rosie says:

    I am very saddened that such a controversy has come to pass regarding Loncon3. Regardless of who’s fault it is, it brings the whole convention and as it is such a high profile international one the UK into disrepute.

    I hope the ramifications do not rumble on, because if they do, who would want to see another World Science Fiction Convention back in the UK?

    • I don’t see this as UK-specific. In fact, I expect it to keep happening to every Worldcon. It’s simply the latest iteration of the lack of reasons for sane people not to ever bid for a Worldcon. (Says the former Worldcon chair.)

  15. Celine says:

    Thanks for saying all of this.

  16. Jonathan M says:

    A very courageous post Cheryl, thank you.

    You’re not alone in finding fandom particularly hard going at the moment. There’s a lot of it gafiation floating about. Though we have problems that need confronting as a matter of urgency, I really do think that we need to find a way of discussing them that does not involve torrents of anger and the kind of very public (and seemingly deliberately engineered) moral panics that we saw over the weekend.

  17. Rachael Acks says:

    A very measured response, Cheryl, and you’ve given me more to mull over. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since it happened, because there are some things that really don’t sit well with me. (Particularly that not a real fan thing just makes me angry because it smells just like the “fake geek girl” nonsense that I loathe.)

    I think there is a major dogpiling effect that tends to go with social media, and it’s fast because things are so instant. That’s what bothers me the most, tbh. And discomforts me to think I was part of that dogpile.

    Then again, when it all kicked off I had no idea who Ross was and probably would have normally just stayed on the sideline until I had a chance to do some digging around…up until I saw his response on twitter where he called a woman stupid. At which point I was just…done. So very done.

    There was some definite lack of thinking things through from many angles when this one came down the pipe.

  18. Misha says:

    Of all the posts I’ve seen on this topic, yours is the only one to address the undercurrent of ‘fake fannishness’ that is certainly in play here (even if it’s not the primary motivator behind the outcry). As someone who helps out with John Dowd’s Fannish Outreach project (going to big media cons and handing out free books, while promoting Eastercon, etc), the thing I see time and again is people going to LFCCs and Expos to hang out with their friends. I’m sure that, for many of them, if they went to program-heavy convention they’d love it (witness the success of Nine Worlds, which attempted to make a programming-heavy event, in the classic fan-run-con style, as welcoming as a commercial con), but it’s just not on their radar as a thing.

    There still remains within ‘this bit’ of Fandom some kind of idea that ‘that bit’ of fandom is “fake”, despite ‘that bit’ amply fulfilling the primary requirement of ANY kind of fan – A love of the subject (as can be seen if one actually bothers to talk to them about their interests)

    It’s especially hypocritical when I hear people moaning about ‘The Greying of Fandom’; The truth is, Fandom as a whole has never been younger overall because
    (a) the barriers to entry are so much lower; The Internet means I can hear about a thing that sounds interesting, and in five minutes I can have read up about it on a wiki, gotten fanfic recs, and queued up the entire first season via Video On Demand
    (b) fans with children have raised their children to be fans

    If *your* bit of fandom is getting progressively older, you have to ask yourselves why that is. Is institutionalised sexism stopping women from engaging with the SF lit-community? Yes. But down the road at the Starfury event, where the membership is majority female and has an average age of under 30, nobody even has to ask the question.

    Anyway, apologies for a bit of a ramble.

    In closing, might I humbly propose a new acronym, NOKOF (Not Our Kind Of Fan) to describe this snobbery?

  19. Lilian Edwards says:

    Lord in heaven, what a sensible, measured piece. I followed the link from Ansible out of curiosity at your perspective but I admit with a soupcon of the dread that follows me around at reading anything “fannish” right now, including FB. (How did we get here? Yes I am another semi gafiate – too much work, plain and simple – who thought of making it more than semi.) But sense. Phew.

    I am not very interested (like Paul Oldroyd) in fan politics these days, the Hugos or indeed the Worldcon, let alone how the committee that runs it manages internal power tussles. (Again, i get enough of that at work.) Like Paul I have 30year plus friendships in fandom that will survive no matter what. But I am still part enough of fandom, to not feel happy about not feeling I can say what I feel for fear of it not exactly fitting the current vogue in political, sexual or gender attitudes. Isn’t that feeling of stifling conformity and fear , of pretending to play by someone else’s rules, exactly what we got into fandom to avoid?

  20. Cheryl has provided a nuanced discussion of the events and that is most welcome. I think that anyone concerned with this issue would profit from reading Cheryl’s comments regardless of whether they agree or disagree. There will likely be a lot of postmortem analysis of the events. It strikes me that the entire decision of Hugo MC might have beem a good candidate for a premortem analysis. The idea of a premortem is one that I found in Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. We humans tend to over estimate the upside and under estimate the downside. A premortem is a cognitive tool to help us overcome that cognitive bias. We do a premortem on our shiny new project or decision before it is started or publicly announced. We imagine that our great project or decision has totally failed and is a heap of ashes at our feet. We then have to imagine all of the factors which lead to the failure. This analysis might lead to the project or decision being abandoned, revised or it might proceed unchanged. If the plan proceeds then at least some of the pitfalls might be avoided or at least partially mitigated.

  21. Mihaela says:

    Don’t quit fandom. Worldcon is not the entirety of fandom. ;)

  22. I hesitated before commenting as I don’t really have much to contribute. In any case, I do want to let you know that I appreciate this well-balanced and thoughtful post. Before the Loncon3 announcement and Farah’s post I had no idea who Jonathan Ross was.
    I confess that I am disappointed in the con chairs and their failure to respond properly to the concerns of the membership. One of them could have written a post like this and addressed concerns that have nothing at all to do with whether Ross is a fan or not.

    • Cheryl says:

      Thank you. That’s very much appreciated.

    • Dave O says:

      So much of this could have been resolved with a proper announcement of who Ross is and why they thought he was the right person along with links to his Eisner appearance, among others. If they were determined some real data and an acceptance they understand he is a potentially diversive figure but one with a passion for fandom and a reach that will potentially permanently change the way the Hugo Awards are seen in the mainstream.

      *sigh* there is so much that could have been here.

  23. Blindpew says:

    Thank you Cheryl for a fair and reasoned piece about the “controversy. ” My wife and I are going to Loncon3 not for the Hugo’s or a lot of the programme items but to see friends in the flesh, in my case due to my eye diseases possibly for the last time. We have to a certain amount gaffiated due to the cost of hotels, travel etc. rather than the petty arguments and implied insults. I hope you don’t leave fandom and I hope that you will be at Loncon3.

    • Cheryl says:

      I won’t be at the convention, but I may be in London at the time. Very sorry to hear your reasons for stopping attending cons.

  24. Zander says:

    Your excellent post demonstrates exactly how much of a loss to fandom it would be if you were to walk away. May I add my voice to those urging you to reconsider?

  25. Gideon says:

    As I said elsewhere yesterday, to me this feels like the latest skirmish in the ‘principles vs. pragmatism in fandom’ war.

    On one side, we have progressives; intent on making cons safe, inclusive and enjoyable for all regardless of age, gender or orientation.

    (A classic example of a progressive policy is panel parity.)

    On the other, we have pragmatists; intent on making fandom mainstream and high-profile and recognised in society as a whole.

    (‘Bringing SF out of the ghetto’ is a line I’ve heard used a fair bit.)

    Yes, this is a simplification; no responsible fan wants unsuccessful cons or harassers given free rein; but I think it applies as a general rule of thumb.

    I remember the vocal disagreement that happened in the 2013/2014 Eastercon panel back in 2012 when the subject of panel parity at Eastercon 2014 was brought up.

    Many of the people who are now publicly angry about Ross withdrawing are the people who also tutted and rolled their eyes in 2012 about panel parity; they simply cannot see why it is so damn important because it does not accord with their priorities; and they class such things as do-gooding that gets in the way of Doing Fun Things.

    On the other side, things like panel parity and a Code of Conduct are deeply important to those of us who feel that fandom can improve and needs to be more accessible; and something that goes against these aims (like a Hugo host with a history of foul behaviour) is more than mildly distasteful.

    I can only sympathise with Farah on this: I guess that she felt herself to be in a morally intolerable situation, that it was not being taken seriously enough and that this was a line that she personally could not cross – and as a progressive, I’d be inclined to agree with her.

    I do hope this blows over as quickly as possible, although I fear that this is a long way from being the last such clash.

    Finally, I’m very sorry to hear that you won’t be at Loncon – I hope we can catch up with you at some point soon!

    • On one side, we have progressives; intent on making cons safe, inclusive and enjoyable for all regardless of age, gender or orientation.

      – “for all” except people who disagree with them, or of whom they disapprove.

      Sort of odd concept of “inclusiveness”. It excludes people when there are -real- differences (of opinion) but preens itself on including people who aren’t different in any significant way (trivialities like appearance or the position in which they pee).

  26. Cheryl says:

    Making cons safe, inclusive and enjoyable for all should be a key part of making fandom more mainstream and high profile, not in opposition to it.

    • Gideon says:

      I agree entirely – but I think that a number of other fans feel that the effort to make cons inclusive is at best a distraction – and at worst an exercise in doctrinaire groupthink.

      After the hoohah at Eastercon 2012, I had a friend come up to me and accuse me angrily of sexism (for supporting panel parity); that I had made her gender an issue where it hadn’t previously been one.

      I can’t blame her for her anger; because she had never experienced the harassment mentioned, she thought measures aimed at eliminating it were an irrelevance; and she was angry with me for supporting something that she perceived as intruding on a space that was already safe to her.

      (I also think that she was fortunate enough to get into the core of UK SF fandom young and to become part of the regular mob; so she has never been in the position of being isolated in a possibly-dangerous crowd.)

      She’s a fan; but she is – at best! – sceptical about efforts to make fandom inclusive; and I think that a fair number of UK fans are of a similar mind.

      How do we persuade them? – I’d like to think that EightSquaredCon was an excellent example of a positive response; that a convention can be fun and successful and inclusive. However, that initiative needs to be maintained and normalised; and that’s where the current situation comes in.

      How inclusive will Loncon3 be? – it has a Code of Conduct, and a lot of hard work has been done by good people to make it inclusive, but we’ll only really know in retrospect.

      (As an attending member, I’ll certainly do whatever I can to ensure that the space is safe, but like everyone else, I’m one person with limited spoons, and most of those are currently spent on DWCon!)

  27. Martin Easterbrook says:

    Hi Cheryl,

    Excellent post. Please don’t go away we need you.

    Firstly I need to point out that in the run up to the Worldcon the committee cannot put their side of the story. Anything they say will contribute to further ill feeling and they are quite correctly staying silent.

    I think we have to be clear how we got here. We got here because people on both sides felt that some belief of theirs was more important than fandom. When the problem came to a head they felt it was more important to win than to find a way of resolving the situation for the benefit of fandom as a whole. I don’t think this was entirely conscious but derives from not having had enough contact with people who think differently.

    I’ve been one of these people on occasion but perhaps now we are staring into the abyss we should all reconsider.

    The one piece of the history that I will quote is that both sides agree there was a critical conversation. Both sides describe it as “X would not listen to any of my arguments”.

    As far as I can tell neither side ever once thought of offering the other some kind of compromise or acknowledged that the other had reasonable grounds for their opinion.

    The result of all this is a badly broken toy between two sets of squabbling children.

    I know that’s patronising but it is also the result of several hours toning down what I really want to say.

    I also want to continue the analogy and say that at this moment I don’t care how we got here. All I now want to say is “Fix it!”. Your names are going to be attached to this for decades.

    I don’t care if it was x’s fault. You took on a job where you promised fandom you would deal with things like this and produce a happy convention.

    Please stick to your promise. If you don’t pick up the phone and ask “How can I get you out of the particular part of this mess that you are in” then you are breaking that promise.

    • Except that some people use “I’m not happy” as a demand for domination and control.

      So if “a happy conveniton” is your overriding objective, you become the whipped dog of the deliberately “unhappiest”.

      • Morgan Gallagher says:

        Well, if the person ‘not happy’ is a minority that’s usually the butt of the joke and has had a life of discrimination and abuse, then just one person standing up and saying ‘I’m not happy’ is perfectly valid.

        Just like if 99% of those attending stand up and say “I’m not happy’ about _insert hated minority here_ being there – then tough, be unhappy.

        It’s not about numbers. It’s about respect for human beings. That doesn’t get voted on by the largest vote, or said in the loudest voice, or only count if X amount of people protest. It’s a right and wrong issue not a personal comfort zone one. It’s not about taste, it’s about equality.

  28. Well said, Cheryl. Sad you won’t be at Lon3 though.

  29. I’d never heard of Ross before this, but it’s clear this was a classic mobbing attack.

    The proper response to that sort of thing is blunt defiance; we will not be intimidated by your “outrage”; if you don’t want to come, fine, words can’t express our indifference.

  30. Cheryl says:

    I’m closing comments on this post. I have no intention of allowing my blog to become a battleground over this.

    Mr. Stirling, please go away, I don’t want you here.

Comments are closed.