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[personal profile] amelia_petkova
I'm trying not to let steam come out of my ears while writing this. Earlier this month at Readercon (an event I had hoped to attend someday), author Genevieve Valentine was harassed on multiple occasions by a man later identified as Rene Walling. She first writes about it in her blog here. These incidents were also witnessed by friends who were with her at the time. She files a complaint with the Readercon board. At this point in the "story", Readercon had a "zero tolerance" policy towards harassment. One strike, and you're banned forever.

Rene Walling turns out to be something of a bigshot in the sci-fi/fantasy field. When contacted by Readercon's board (not the committee), he said he was sorry. Proper procedure at this point would have been to hold up the policy and ban him. He was suspended for two years.

WHAT THE HELL YOU HAD A FUCKING POLICY ALREADY IN PLACE ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS ENFORCE IT!

Valentine reveals this decision also on her blog in this post. In the comments of the same post, a woman reveals that she had been harassed by Walling at multiple events.

This post contains a collection of links to various posts commenting on the Readercon board's decision. At least one committee member has resigned in protest. The only good thing I can see in this whole situation is that many people have spoken against the board and their actions.

Readercon posted their decision about Walling several days ago. I very much doubt they expected to gain almost 400 rightfully angry and disappointed comments (as of this morning). Many people have said they plan to never return to Readercon. I had to think for a day or so before I could think what to write. My comment on the board's post:

The lesson Rene Williams learned: He can get away with sexual harassment.

The lesson I learned: Because I am a woman, you do not care about my safety.

How can you be so horrible?

In addition, did you honestly think there would be no consequences following your decision? The current incidents has been posted about by Genevieve Valentine, an author with many readers of her blog, witnessed by people as the events were happening, and the harasser has been revealed to be a chronic predator. Did you really believe that you could suspend Williams for two years, make one announcement, and have this all swept under the rug? Aside from the appalling lack of morals in your decision to not follow the zero tolerance policy, this is supremely bad business sense. You could have believed Williams' victims and witnesses, followed your policy, and gained the approval (and attendance) of many people for making Readercon a safe space. Instead, you chose to appease one person and have gained the anger of hundreds. Look at how many comments this post alone has collected in only a few days. Think about how many of these people state an intention to stay away from Readercon. Earlier in the comments, an ethics professor has mentioned planning to use your decision as an example of "What not to do, EVER" in their class. Your disgusting actions are gaining notice both on and off the Internet. How much money will you lose from future cons and how much bad press will you get?

And you deserve every bit of it.


(Later commented to correct Williams to Walling.)
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