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Readercon speaks! [Jul. 27th, 2012|06:47 pm]
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Okay, NOW they're going public:

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.

During the course of our conversation with Rene it became immediately apparent that he realized what he had done and was sincerely regretful of his actions. It was that recognition and regret that influenced our decision, not his status in the community. If, as a community, we wish to educate others about harassment, we must also allow for the possibility of reform.

I agree; we must allow for the possibility of reform, which is why the harassment policy should have been designed with multiple distinct levels of consequences in the first instance. But they weren't, as they were likely to designed only to eliminate a particular person with schizophrenia from the con environment for life! That must have been some amaaaaazing apology on the part of Rene Walling to a) to instantaneously inspire such a new and subtle understanding of reform on the part of the committee, b) a change to the rules that moments prior seemed so great and c) that also eliminated the nagging self-critical thoughts the committee members must have experienced. "Are we just letting Rene Walling off lightly because he's a Big Wheel in fandom? No! No! The apology, so profound, so plaintive—not a doubt remains! Nobody on Earth who heard this apology could disagree with us!"

But we didn't get to hear the apology, even.

[User Picture]From: mondyboy
2012-07-28 02:06 am (UTC)


It's policy on the run and as a clarification only demonstrates the incompetence of the Board. In fact it's somehow made me angrier about the whole thing.
[User Picture]From: kehrli
2012-07-28 02:08 am (UTC)


It's interesting that his apology is what's getting him out of the permanent ban, considering that stalking Genevieve to apologize was part of the problem.
[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2012-07-28 02:10 am (UTC)


[User Picture]From: livia_llewellyn
2012-07-28 02:13 am (UTC)


And in both cases, he was apologizing (or trying to) in order to get something he absolutely does not deserve.
[User Picture]From: nihilistic_kid
2012-07-28 02:13 am (UTC)


If he had actually managed to apologize to Genevieve, they'd be engaged to be married!
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: neverjaunty
2012-07-28 02:16 am (UTC)


I suppose it's possible the committee was merely spineless, rather than sucking up to Walling.
[User Picture]From: mme_hardy
2012-07-28 03:22 am (UTC)


Nope. The spineless thing to do would have been to tell him "Oh, we're sorry, but we're bound by this awful policy, there was nothing we could do!" The point of zero-tolerance policies is to let you be spineless, to claim that you have no flexibility in your judgement.

They were sucking up to Walling. AND simultaneously giving Genevieve the back of their hand (if not the full moon).
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: nihilistic_kid
2012-07-28 02:22 am (UTC)


Incorrigible, like the schizophrenic they wanted to get rid of. And compulsive, like the schizophrenic they wanted to get rid of.

Normal folks—two-year time out, then it's back on the Pussy Wagon! OH YEAH!
[User Picture]From: fridgepunk
2012-07-28 02:28 am (UTC)


They need to reveal the methods they used to discern raw Truth with a high enough standard of certainty to warrant changing the rules – because obviously they MUST have some method for discerning raw Truth, it's not like they're just taking the guy's word that he's totally for reals sorry and has learned his lesson, right?
[User Picture]From: muckefuck
2012-07-28 02:36 am (UTC)


They looked right past those droopy puppydog eyes and Deep Within His Soul where they discerned his True Intent. It's a classified method because of its usefulness to law enforcement, who they moonlight for.
[User Picture]From: silviamg
2012-07-28 04:07 am (UTC)


One of the most disturbing parts of this incident is that the committee was apparently under the impression that there is one type of person who harrases others: the Dirty Man in the Bushes. They were shocked to see it could be the Nice Guy.

Of course, this is far from true. Nice Men and Women can do bad stuff, but the idea and the stereotype that there is one kind of nasty guy and you can stop him a mile away is pretty worrying. Hopefully they now realize it's not like in the comic books, and the bad guys don't wear identifying colours like purple and green to make them easy to spot.
[User Picture]From: admnaismith
2012-07-28 05:22 am (UTC)


There is also the distinction between those socially inept people who do not understand the effect their behavior has on others (that is, those who mean well, and who arguably can be educated to change their behavior, and who arguably should be banned only after a consistent pattern of failure to learn), and those predators who view others as a resource, and who do not care whether they harm others--and who seek out venues like conventions specifically to prey on the emotionally vulnerable (that is, those who should not only be outed and ostracized for the protection of the group, but possibly turned over to the cops).

From what little I know of Mr. Walling, I do not know which of those he is, but even given the benefit of the doubt, he appears to have fallen into the "consistent failure to learn" category.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-07-28 04:37 am (UTC)


My name is Kate Kligman, and I was mentioned in Genevive's follow-up post here ( but not by name. I sent this note to Rose Fox on July 17th, and with my permission she sent it to Readercon CEO Diane Martin that day. I'm reproducing the note here. They didn't get back to me.

Hi Rose,

I didn't attend Readercon, but this morning Nick Mamatas told me the
guy who was bothering Genevieve Valentine was someone who had caused
problems for me too. Rene Walling is the chair of the Hugo Awards
Marketing Committee, and he was a french translator last year at Reno
for the 2011 base designer (I was a Hugo admin in 2010 and 2011 and
also served on the marketing committee).

I had worked under him online for a couple years, when he was the
chair of Anticipation, then out of the blue when he met me in person
he asked me to marry him. I didn't even know we were dating. I told
him no, but since then, I've had issues with him following me at
events, and he didn't ever really back off. For this and other
reasons, I stopped volunteering entirely last year so I could limit
contact. But it got worse after I resigned, he followed me around at
SF Contario 2, and I ended up leaving the event early.

I'm interested in the outcome, if any, because it's a factor in me
attending Readercon next year. I didn't go this year because I knew
he'd be there.


[User Picture]From: icecreamempress
2012-07-28 05:36 am (UTC)


Kate, I'm sorry you experienced that.

Gee, it certainly does seem like Walling is plenty "intent" on acting inappropriately to women all over the place.
[User Picture]From: admnaismith
2012-07-28 05:11 am (UTC)


If Mr. Former Worldcon Chair is so all-fired important and connected, why didn't they just name a substitute pariah to be banned for life on his behalf? you know, someone who wouldn't be missed as much? They could pay him something to be a substitute, to make it worth his while, or maybe pick someone who doesn't even go to Readercon, who wouldn't be as inconvenienced.

It's not as if they care about being diplomatic or anything.

Or if they wanted to be all behind-the-scenes and we're-not-being-public-about-it, they could have imposed the lifetime ban to show they were serious about no-harassment, with the private understanding that he would be allowed to humbly petition for reinstatement after a couple of years, after writing an essay demonstrating how much he'd learned and grown and changed and stuff.
[User Picture]From: vschanoes
2012-07-28 05:15 am (UTC)


Oh, he's SORRY! Who knew? I thought that when they'd call him, he'd rant about how Genevieve was a slut who loved every minute of his attention and deserved what she got! Who could have foreseen that somebody who's been caught dead to rights would possibly say that he was SORRY?
2012-07-28 05:44 am (UTC)


Wow, so this guy is emotionally disturbed and fixates on women, has routinely harassed women, especially at cons, indulged in not just one but multiple incidents of stalking Ms. Valentine, an author guest, at the con, including grabbing her, and they think he's going to reform? Seriously, when you've already run the gauntlet of aggressive sexual assault behavior short of rape, just maybe the con could say enough. Just the freaking once.
[User Picture]From: ccw71266
2012-07-28 05:37 am (UTC)


And then no one leaves.

The board waffles some more, then reiterates that the suspension is "at least" two years. Some few fence sitters say "Well, I guess that's OK". Everyone else grumbles. Nobody who does any actual work for the con resigns--they know the con is better than this, and if they work hard enough, they can save it.

Eventually the board says, "OK, the ban is 'permanent'--unless we decide somewhere down the line he's learned his lesson." Some people still grumble, but plans are made for next con, "just in case they actually get their act together."

Con rolls around, new harassment policy is in place, guy is conspicuously absent. Attendance is down, like 5%, staff is the same faces in the same positions doing the same things.

Con after that, nobody remembers what happened, or pretends not to. People are warned to watch out for That One Guy, but y'know, not told why.

Con three or four years following, somebody gets harassed by someone else--the original creep having retired from con running--and the whole thing starts over yet again.

My prediction. I really hope I'm wrong.
[User Picture]From: nihilistic_kid
2012-07-28 05:38 am (UTC)


People are warned to watch out for That One Guy, but y'know, not told why.

Luckily, the Internet never forgets.
[User Picture]From: teratologist
2012-07-28 06:04 am (UTC)


By communicating to Walling that he is a person for whom exceptions will be made, I suspect they've made it less likely that he'll reform, not more. So even their stated rationale is bullshit.

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: mouseworks
2012-07-28 09:00 pm (UTC)

See "Queer as Folks"


"What part of fuck off don't you get?"

Back up two or three moves to "Nice seeing you again."

That's where you should stop.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: neverjaunty
2012-07-31 03:05 pm (UTC)


The excuses being made by some confolk, and in particular those of self-professed friends like cogitationitis, are part of the reason I don't go to cons much and certainly don't encourage my kids to go.

I, too, spent a lot of time at cons in the 1980s and 1990s.I ran into this attitude all the time: predators and jerks were excused, as long as they were Important or friends of the people in charge. Well, maybe you shouldn't have dressed differently. I know X! He's my friend! What, he was just flirting, cut him some slack. You know fan culture is touchy-feely, so why are you getting all upset? (The idea of a sexual harassment policy? Fergedit.)

And so on.

I vividly remember one convention where a Big Name Fan had been accused of child pornography - he later pleaded guilty - and someone set up a Legal Defense Fund jar in the con suite. His friends would hang out and angry ask anyone walking by if they had contributed money. Please understand, this was not an issue of "he's falsely accused, he'd never do such a thing, it's totally out of character". This was a SMOF who proudly displayed albums full of photographs of women he'd persuaded to pose nude for him. No, the issue was that he was charming, threw great parties, and was well-liked, so clearly everybody needed to chip in to save him from being picked on.
[User Picture]From: gary_farber
2012-08-08 06:44 pm (UTC)



"I vividly remember one convention where a Big Name Fan had been accused of child pornography - he later pleaded guilty - and someone set up a Legal Defense Fund jar in the con suite."

Since this all happened in public, and clearly is not a secret, I would very much like to know the name of this fan and convention so we can all be warned.