It’s been four days since Genevieve Valentine posted that Rene Walling, who harassed her at Readercon, was banned for two years from attending the convention. This in spite of Readercon having a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment of any sort.
I’m going to take a punt and speculate that the Board of Directors thought their post would silence most of their critics. Unfortunately for them it just fanned the flames. Coffeeandink has kindly provided links to a number of the responses that have been made across the web. (She also links to B. C. Holmes whose done an enormous job in collating as many links as possible).
It’s now been three days and counting since the clarification, and other than a whisper that one of the Directors has walked from the Board, we haven’t heard a peep from them. In the age of social media, three days of silence is equivalent to an ice age.
I’m sure at some point someone will say something. I hope whatever that Readercon rep says is (a) less inane than the original clarification and (b) imposes the life time ban on Rene Walling. But I’m not holding my breath. Because it should have been obvious to anyone, except for a complete fuckwit, that imposing a two-year ban – in direct contravention of your own policy* – was never going to be a popular decision, no matter how it was spun.
The incompetence of the Board – who deserved to be named and shamed: Bob Colby, Merryl Gross, B. Diane Martin, David G. Shaw, Eric M. Van – has tarnished the good reputation of Readercon forever. Even if they were to (a) change their decision and (b) resign en masse, a number of fans will never trust Readercon again. And I don’t blame them.**
The only silver lining to all this is how 99% of fandom has come together in one voice about this issue. It’s difficult to find anyone who actually supports the Board of Director’s decision.
But the fact that with all the groundswell of support this has been allowed to fester, is a fucking joke. And not a funny one.
We should be angry. We should be angry that Genevieve and other victims of harassment, even after having the courage to come forward, are still treated like shit by incompetent fuckwits. We should be angry that a con I’ve only ever heard good things about has been so damaged.
We should be angry that this EVER GOT TO THIS POINT!
*In their clarification, the Board of Directors had the gall to say:
When we wrote our zero-tolerance policy in 2008 (in response to a previous incident), we were operating under the assumption that violators were either intent on their specific behaviors, clueless, or both.
Putting aside that Rene Walling seemed pretty fucking intent on his specific behavior, the policy clearly doesn’t allow for this sort of wriggle room. That’s why it’s called zero-tolerance.
** Because even after this has all boiled over, fans will link Readercon to this debacle.