When you are in the middle of trying to persuade people to revitalize science fiction conventions, the last thing you need is something like this. The post linked to is a litany of fairly awful behavior experienced by the poster and his friends at Lunacon over the weekend. It includes things like:
It is not appropriate to assume that lesbians are there for your pleasure and entertainment; as such, do not ask them to kiss, engage in an orgy, or otherwise amuse you.
It is not appropriate to inquire to a trans person you do not know as to whether they’ve “cut it off yet”
Not to mention all of the usual stuff about washing, hijacking panels and the like.
My personal experience suggests that this sort of thing isn’t common. Aside from one unpleasant incident at a media con in San José years ago I can’t remember any serious problems with other con attendees that I don’t know. Obviously I have had run-ins with people who dislike me personally, and there are occasionally issues with people who have got “security” jobs at conventions and think that gives them the right to bully others. I’ve also encountered various people (mainly feminists) who think that their political philosophy gives them the right to police the lives of everyone else in the world. But by and large I think I’ve been pretty lucky at conventions.
I am, however, aware that my personal experience is not necessary typical, and experiences like the one linked to cause me to wonder if it might not be atypical.
I also note that already one commenter has muttered about the problems of letting young people into conventions. -sigh-
One specific point that was brought up was about txting during panels. This caused someone to link back to my discussion on the use of technology at Worldcons. Using a full keyboard from a panel audience can be distracting because of the clatter of the keys. Similarly if you have a phone that makes beepy noises every time you press a key, you shouldn’t be using it in a panel. It will probably take a while before some people get comfortable with the ubiquity of electronic communication, and those people may be badly distracted by the use of phones even if it is silent and unobtrusive, but I think in the long term we’ll all get used to it and the technology will get even less obvious.
Overall, however, I suspect that conventions are pretty much typical of society as a whole, although perhaps with an added dose of the “I have a lengthy and turgid intellectual justification for my bad behavior” syndrome. Having abuse yelled at me by strangers in the street is a pretty common experience in the UK (probably at least once a week). Conventions, in comparison, seem fairly safe places. Though that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t challenge inappropriate behavior in our spaces when we encounter it.