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Harassment Policies: New Allegations Show More Work To Be Done

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The specter of sexual harassment has once again risen up in tabletop gaming circles. Conventions are supposed to be places where gamers and geeks can be themselves and embrace their loves. Conventions need clear and well formulated harassment policies, and they need to enforce them. In this instance the allegations from multiple women have taken place at gaming conventions and gathering in different locations around the country. In one case, the harassment was took place over the course of years and spilled over into electronic formats.


The alleged harasser in these cases was Sean Patrick Fannon, President of Evil Beagle Games, Brand Manager for Savage Rifts at Pinnacle Entertainment Group, as well as being a game designer and developer with a long history in the tabletop role-playing industry.

There is a long and untenable policy of harassment at conventions that stretches back to science fiction and fantasy fandom in the 1960s. Atlanta's Dragon*Con has been a lightning rod in the discussions about safety at geeky conventions after one of the convention's founders was arrested and pled guilty to three charges of molestation. We have also covered reports of harassment at conventions such as Paizo Con, and inappropriate or harassing behavior by notable industry figures. It is clear that clear harassment policies and firm enforcement of them is needed in spaces where members of our community gather, in order that attendees feel safe to go about their hobby. Some companies, such as Pelgrane Press, now refuse to attend conventions where a clear harassment policy is not available.

Several women have approached me to tell me about encounters with Fannon. Some of them asked not to be named, or to use their reports for background verification only. We also reached out to Sean Patrick Fannon for his comments, and he was willing to address the allegations.

The women that I spoke with had encounters with Fannon that went back to 2013 and 2014 but also happened as recently as the summer of 2017. Each of the locations were in different parts of the country, but all of them occurred when Fannon was a guest of the event.

The worse of the two incidents related to me happened at a convention in the Eastern part of the United States. In going back over texts and messages stretching back years the woman said that it "is frustrating [now] to read these things" because of the cajoling and almost bullying approach that Fannon would use in the messages. She said that Fannon approached her at the con suite of the convention, and after speaking with her for a bit and playing a game with a group in the suite he showed her explicit photos on his cellphone of him engaged in sex acts with a woman.

Fannon's ongoing harassment of this woman would occur both electronically and in person, when they would both be at the same event, and over the course of years he would continue to suggest that she should engage in sexual acts, either with him alone, or with another woman.

Fannon denies the nature of the event, saying "I will assert with confidence that at no time would such a sharing have occurred without my understanding explicit consent on the part of all parties. It may be that, somehow, a miscommunication or misunderstanding occurred; the chaos of a party or social gathering may have created a circumstance of all parties not understanding the same thing within such a discourse. Regardless, I would not have opened such a file and shared it without believing, sincerely, it was a welcome part of the discussion (and in pursuit of further, mutually-expressed intimate interest)."

The second woman, at a different gaming-related event in another part of the country, told of how Fannon, over the course of a day at the event, asked her on four different occasions for hugs, or physical contact with her. Each time she clearly said no to him. The first time she qualified her answer with a "I don't even know you," which prompted Fannon after he saw her for a second time to say "Well, you know me now." She said that because of the multiple attempts in a short period of time that Fannon's behavior felt predatory to her. Afterwards he also attempted to connect with her via Facebook.

Afterwards, this second woman contacted the group that organized the event to share what happened and they reached out to Fannon with their concerns towards his behavior. According to sources within the organization at the time, Fannon - as with the first example - described it to the organizers as a misunderstanding on the woman's part. When asked, he later clarified to us that the misunderstanding was on his own side, saying "Honestly, I should have gotten over myself right at the start, simply owned that I misunderstood, and apologized. In the end, that's what happened, and I walked away from that with a pretty profound sense of how to go forward with my thinking about the personal space of those I don't know or know only in passing."

Both women faced ongoing pressure from Fannon, with one woman the experiences going on for a number of years after the initial convention meeting. In both cases he attempted to continue contact via electronic means with varying degrees of success. A number of screen shots from electronic conversations with Fannon were shared with me by both women.

Diane Bulkeley was willing to come forward and speak on the record of her incidents with Fannon. Fannon made seemingly innocent, and yet inappropriate comments about her body and what he wanted to do with her. She is part of a charity organization that had Fannon as a guest. What happened to her was witnessed by another woman with whom I spoke about that weekend. As Bulkeley heard some things, and her witness others, their experiences are interwoven to describe what happened. Bulkeley described this first encounter at the hotel's elevators: "We were on the floor where our rooms were to go downstairs to the convention floor. I was wearing a tank top and shirt over it that showed my cleavage. He was staring at my chest and said how much he loved my shirt and that I should wear it more often as it makes him hot. For the record I can't help my cleavage is there." Bulkeley went on to describe her mental state towards this "Paying a lady a compliment is one thing, but when you make a direct comment about their chest we have a problem."

Later on in the same day, while unloading some boxes for the convention there was another incident with Fannon. Bulkeley described this: "Well, [the witness and her husband] had to move their stuff from a friends airplane hangar (we all use as storage for cars and stuff) to a storage until next to their house. Apparently Sean, while at the hanger, made grunt noises about my tank top (it was 80 outside) while Tammy was in the truck. I did not see it. But she told me about it. Then as we were unloading the truck at the new facility Sean kept looking down my shirt and saying I have a great view etc. Her husband said to him to knock it off. I rolled my eyes, gave him a glare and continued to work. I did go and put on my event day jacket (light weight jacket) to cover up a little."

The witness, who was in the truck with Fannon, said that he "kept leering down at Diane, glancing down her shirt and making suggestive sounds." The witness said that Fannon commented "'I'm liking the view from up here.'"

Bulkeley talked about how Fannon continued his behavior later on in a restaurant, having dinner with some of the guests of the event. Fannon made inappropriate comments about her body and embarrassed her in front of the other, making her feel uncomfortable throughout the dinner.

Bulkeley said that Fannon also at one point touched her hair without asking, and smelled it as well. "[Fannon] even would smell my long hair. He begged me to not cut it off at a charity function that was part of the weekend's event." She said that he also pressed his pelvis tightly against her body while hugging her. These incidents occurred at a convention during the summer of 2017.

Fannon denies these events. "The comments and actions attributed to me simply did not happen; I categorically and absolutely deny them in their entirety."

When asked for comment, and being informed that this story was being compiled Fannon commented "I do not recall any such circumstance in which the aftermath included a discourse whereby I was informed of distress, anger, or discomfort." He went on to say "The only time I recall having ever been counseled or otherwise spoken to about my behavior in such matters is the Gamers Giving/Total Escape Games situation discussed above. The leader of the organization at that time spoke to me specifically, asked me to be aware that it had been an issue, and requested I be aware of it in the future. It was then formally dropped, and that was the end of it until this time."

There were further reports; however, we have respected the wishes of those women who asked to remain anonymous for fear of online harassment. In researching this article, I talked to multiple women and other witnesses.

About future actions against the alleged behaviors he also said "It is easy, after all, to directly attack and excise obviously predatory and harassing behavior. It is much more difficult to point out and correct behavior that falls within more subtle presentations, and it's more difficult to get folks to see their actions as harmful when they had no intention to cause harm, based on their assumptions of what is and isn't appropriate. It's good for us to look at the core assumptions that lead to those behaviors and continue to challenge them. That's how real and lasting change within society is achieved."

Fannon's weekly column will no longer be running on E.N. World.

Have you suffered harassment at the hands of someone, industry insider or otherwise, at a gaming convention? If you would like to tell your story, you can reach out to me via social media about any alleged incidents. We can speak confidentially, but I will have to know the identity of anyone that I speak with.

This does open up the question of: At what point do conventions become responsible for the actions of their guest, when they are not more closely scrutinizing the backgrounds of those guests? One woman, who is a convention organizer, with whom I spoke for the background of this story told me that word gets around, in the world of comic conventions, when guests and creators cause problems. Apparently this is not yet the case in the world of tabletop role-playing game conventions, because there are a growing number of publishers and designers who have been outed for various types of harassing behavior, but are still being invited to be guest, and in some cases even guests of honor, at gaming conventions around the country. The message that this sends to women who game is pretty clear.

More conventions are rolling out harassment policies for guests and attendees of their conventions. Not only does this help to protect attendees from bad behavior, but it can also help to protect conventions from bad actors within the various communities that gather at our conventions. As incidents of physical and sexual harassment are becoming more visible, it becomes more and more clear that something needs to be done.

additional editorial contributions by Morrus
 

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GRIMJIM

Villager
Eh, probably not a good idea to stick my neck out and make this my 're-entry' to this forum, but what the heck. There's a heck of a lot of stuff here to address and talk about.

I can't say that Sean and I got on and, in fact, I probably have every reason to celebrate his 'fall from grace'. As a member of the extreme end of 'social justice warriors,' he's in good company having had this happen though. It's almost a trope. He helped the campaign to have at least one of my games pulled from sale - and yes, that is a form of censorship according to the ACLU and I'm sure other people can point to other well-meaning misdeeds on his behalf. That seems to be something that has been mentioned in this thread.

From what I can decipher of what he's said, this seems roughly analogous to the accusations made against Lawrence Krauss, which read as socially awkward misunderstandings and cringeworthy obliviousness. Social awkwardness and people on the spectrum may be something both the skeptic community and the gaming community have in common, which could account for the bacchanal atmosphere some 'Nerd Proms' descend into.

Even though I've got a good reason to personally dislike him on that basis, I'm just not prepared to throw him under the bus any more than I would anyone else. There are accusations, but that doesn't make them facts. As others have pointed out we have a legal principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'. Others have suggested that this is somehow a bad principle or limited to a purely legal context. That isn't the case, it's a basic logical principle - the burden of proof - which is why it's utilised in legal cases as well as science, and why it's a good general rule for life. Sure, personal bias and relationships can get in the way, but that's precisely why we have processes in both these spheres to encourage objectivity.

We are, however, operating in the social sphere and it seems unlikely that any legal action will result from this. So we have a largely anonymous set of claims against a publicly identified figure, with no way for most of us to confirm whether or not any of it has happened. Furthermore, he's apparently not allowed to present his side of things without being censored. This hardly seems fair or just, though one can certainly appreciate why it would worry people for accusers to be identified. Ideally, this would be handled by the courts and both accuser and accused would remain anonymous until such time as a judgement was rendered.

The world is less than ideal though and we must make do.

Part of that 'making do' should be extending the benefit of the doubt. Accusations such as this, true or false, ruin people. As little as a couple of tweets can see people lose their relationships, jobs, future prospects and end up with an internet profile that renders them socially toxic and unemployable for years to come. This happens whether or not they've actually done anything at all. Surely we can agree that this isn't a good way to proceed? To - metaphorically - lynch someone, purely because an accusation is made? That can lead to some very dark places.

By all means take precautions, investigate further, but don't lose sight of the principle of justice and fairness in the pursuit of social 'justice'.

Contrary to what some likely think, I'm all for social justice in terms of treating people equally and fairly. Ironically it's these left/lib values that are the very things that have lead me to oppose the ideologically drive 'regressive left' which seems to be in full voice throughout this thread. That doesn't mean I'm on the side of the populist right, the Jordan Petersons and their ilk either, certainly not on the side of them 'they're all lying' kind of people in this thread.

That said, it's worth pointing out that this kind of thing isn't unknown, certainly in activist circles. There was collusion and plotting in the case against Gregory Allen Elliot and, more sinisterly, in the Jian Ghomeshi trial - both instances in Canada. I'm most aware of issues in Canada thanks to Diana Davison's work with The Lighthouse Project. The fact of the matter is that we really have no idea how many accusations are false. Estimates vary horrendously and while people rightly decry how few sexual misconduct or rape cases are prosecuted, the same is true - perhaps even more so - for false accusations. They're hard to prosecute for many of the same reasons that sex crimes are hard to prosecute, with additional political issues not unlike the ones that have caused problems with prosecuting grooming gangs in the UK.

It's anywhere from that tiny percentage we're aware of, up to the full number of claims that are never prosecuted. Neither extreme is likely, but anecdotally police officers and investigators state that it's higher than we might think. Still that's colloquial and we shouldn't put too much weight on that either.

It's a conundrum. How do we address the clear issues that there are in prosecuting these cases while still providing due process and consideration for the accused? That's a problem more for the courts than us, but not prosecuting witchhunts also seems like a no-brainer. 'Trust but verify' rather than 'Listen and believe' as we used to say in GG. Speaking of which, it was brought up in the context of supposedly being a hate movement, which it was not and actual evidence exists contrary to that belief. That just goes to show that even evidence won't convince some people.

Some people want to address it by lowering the standard of evidence, but the advent of genetic forensics has cleared a lot of people who were convicted on the basis of testimony and accusations. Lowering the standard of evidence doesn't seem like a good idea and that does mean that guilty people are going to go free. Blackstone's Formulation remains a useful ethical guide and it was rather horrifying to see people in this thread decrying it and being willing to see innocent people jailed, or worse.

Others, even more horrifyingly, have tried to get things shifted to an inquisitorial system of justice in sexual cases. Why this is a terrible idea should be clear to anyone.

So there doesn't appear to be any good solutions to that problem, but that's one for the legal systems and the courts. I would suggest that we - as individuals - give the benefit of the doubt and try to take some of the heat out of this febrile atmosphere, but I don't see that kind of logic going over too well with many people. In fact, it - and much of this post most likely - will be taken as something that it isn't. A protection of abusers, or an attack on the (allegedly) abused. That's how bad things have gotten. Not to mention that often the people you have to defend the rights of, are unpleasant. They might be creepy, they might be fascists, they might be paedophiles, but even genuinely, provenly repugnant people still have human rights.

As to conventions? I don't think anti-harassment policies are a good idea. I think we already have a societal one called 'the law'. This doesn't mean I'm pro-harassment, and I have had to intercede myself at events in the past. I am, however, concerned about these policies as many of them seem to be ideologically driven and to 'Trojan Horse' agendas and censorship. I've attended more than one convention which, if the policy were strictly enforced, would have had no sales room and no games. Many of these policies derive from the pattern on the Geek Feminism Wiki, and this has caused problems elsewhere, let alone gaming cons. I am very pleased to see that Dragonmeet has walked back their version some since the last one I attended. Still, they seem completely unnecessary and very open for abuse. All it takes is one person to be a jerk and either the con staff will be outed as hypocrites, or things will go horribly wrong.

Between the law and looking out for each other, I think we have all the tools we need. Having anti-harassment policies seems pointless and, I hate to say it since the term gets abused, but it seems like 'virtue signalling'. I mean, they're even measuring skirts at PAX now. It's like we've gone back in time 70 years, not forward, and yet it's being driven by people who call themselves 'progressive'. It's all rather confusing to a grumpy old leftie libertine.

Of course, these things all move so fast that something else may have come out even while I was writing this, but I think there's enough there that's generally applicable to the broader issue I think.

To reiterate, because people tend to be a bit hard of understanding on these issues and to infer things that aren't said.

  • These are serious issues, which I take seriously.
  • Sexual crimes and misdemeanours are horrible and a strong stance should be taken against them.
  • Accusations should be taken seriously.
  • I don't think the current witchhunt atmosphere is productive or useful and may have gone too far the other way.
  • Justice and fairness demand we consider people innocent until proven guilty, even in our personal lives.
  • People shouldn't be ruined on the basis of a mere accusation alone.
  • These things are business for the courts.
  • Antiharassment policies are unnecessary, which doesn't mean I accept or condone harassment.

Hopefully people will address the points.
 

Catulle

Villager
Thank you for posting that.

I did a cursory search: Mary Brandon’s groper/assaulter has- apparently- never been caught in the intervening 4 years, despite the UK’s nearly ubiquitous use of CCTV systems, including those at the festival.
I'm not sure I'd use "nearly ubiquitous" - perhaps in (certain areas of) London and the motorways, but really not so much in the provinces.
 

Elfcrusher

Explorer
For those who like to talk tough about "fighting back", here's a sobering story:

New York Times said:
At one gathering, in a school cafeteria, a Sacramento sheriff’s detective named Carol Daly gave a brief tutorial about defending oneself against the attacker. But before the few hundred audience members dispersed into the California night, a man questioned how anyone could possibly get away with raping a woman in the presence of her husband, who would do everything in his power to prevent an assault.

A few months later, the East Area Rapist targeted that very man and his wife, in one of the more brutal attacks of the dozens he had committed.
 

Eltab

Villager
I once designed a campaign in which the PCs are part of a force that they have to figure out is actually in the service of the BBEG. Never got to run it, though.
The scene in Project Valkyrie (Tom Cruise movie) where the commander of the Berlin Police realizes "WE are the rebels they mean!" has sounded like a neat plot-twist to drop on a group, but I'm not devious enough - as plot writer or DM - to carry through the first 2/3 of the campaign to make it work.
 
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Catulle

Villager
By all means take precautions, investigate further, but don't lose sight of the principle of justice and fairness in the pursuit of social 'justice'
There's a reason why my (latter-day, well after we did the CamUK thing) social work lecturers delivered a "Social Justice and Inclusion" module, after all.

I think applying the lens of criminality isn't useful (if nothing else it invites the limitlessly stupid criminal justice comparisons) - these policies aren't or shouldn't be about looking to punish the guilty (which is a matter for the above) - rather it's about risk management and harm reduction to one's guests and invites a rather different approach.
 
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GRIMJIM

Villager
There's a reason why my (latter-day, well after we did the CamUK thing) social work lecturers delivered a "Social Justice [i[and Inclusion[/i]" module, after all.

I think applying the lens of criminality isn't useful (if nothing else it invites the limitlessly stupid criminal justice comparisons) - these policies aren't or shouldn't be about looking to punish the guilty (which is a matter for the above) - rather it's about risk management and harm reduction to one's guests and invites a rather different approach.
The accused are also your guests.
 

Afrodyte

Villager
Now I know that if I'm harassed at a con or other fandom event held by EN World, I'll never be believed if I ever step forward. So, thanks for the heads up, I guess.

Also, while we're on the subject, I'd like pictures of all the dudes speaking in Fannon's defense so I'll know to never allow myself to be within five feet of any of them. Y'know, just in case, so it's clear I did my due diligence and didn't ask for it, especially since I'd most likely be attending without a male chaperone.

Edit: Know what? I'll just stay at home. Easier and safer that way.
 

GRIMJIM

Villager
Precisely; balance of rights stuff, risk assessment and all that jazz. You get that, though - you've run events and controlled access to them yourself.
If someone was said to be a problem we'd have someone keep an eye on them rather than barring them. I'd hate to be running events in this current atmosphere though.

It's endlessly disappointing to see a community that has been the target of so many moral panics succumb to one.
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
Now I know that if I'm harassed at a con or other fandom event held by EN World, I'll never be believed if I ever step forward. So, thanks for the heads up, I guess.
Eh? I published the article. What leads you to believe I would not believe you if you said you were harassed at an event I hosted? I was rather hoping I was giving the exact opposite impression.

For the record, you would be believed.
 

GRIMJIM

Villager
Now I know that if I'm harassed at a con or other fandom event held by EN World, I'll never be believed if I ever step forward. So, thanks for the heads up, I guess.

Also, while we're on the subject, I'd like pictures of all the dudes speaking in Fannon's defense so I'll know to never allow myself to be within five feet of any of them. Y'know, just in case, so it's clear I did my due diligence and didn't ask for it, especially since I'd most likely be attending without a male chaperone.

Edit: Know what? I'll just stay at home. Easier and safer that way.
I don't think I've seen much defence, just calls for evidence before passing judgement.
It's probably a good idea to 'keep the receipts'. Most of us have a full AV suite in our pockets now after all.
It's probably not a good idea to broad-swathe implicitly accuse people in this way though.
 

Afrodyte

Villager
I don't think I've seen much defence, just calls for evidence before passing judgement.
It's probably a good idea to 'keep the receipts'. Most of us have a full AV suite in our pockets now after all.
It's probably not a good idea to broad-swathe implicitly accuse people in this way though.
Yes, yes, sure. I would still like the photos, though. Just in case.
 

Afrodyte

Villager
Eh? I published the article. What leads you to believe I would not believe you if you said you were harassed at an event I hosted? I was rather hoping I was giving the exact opposite impression.

For the record, you would be believed.
I'm sure you would believe me, but the entire direction of this thread indicates that anyone who harassed me would have a far more vigorous defense from the members of this community.
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
I'm sure you would believe me, but the entire direction of this thread indicates that anyone who harassed me would have a far more vigorous defense from the members of this community.
A lot of those people are from elsewhere and have joined just to comment on this thread. They aren’t representative of this community, I promise. The community is awesome (with a handful of exceptions!) and I promise any event I hosted would have a strong anti-harassment policy.
 

GRIMJIM

Villager
I'm sure you would believe me, but the entire direction of this thread indicates that anyone who harassed me would have a far more vigorous defense from the members of this community.
If you were accused of something, wouldn't you want there to be a degree of scepticism and a requirement for something backing it up?

Empathy is a two-way street here I think.
 

Catulle

Villager
If someone was said to be a problem we'd have someone keep an eye on them rather than barring them. I'd hate to be running events in this current atmosphere though.

It's endlessly disappointing to see a community that has been the target of so many moral panics succumb to one.
That's likely at the crux of the issue, Grim. I mean, I'm keeping an eye on you throughout - declaration time; I'm married to somebody you directly harassed back in the day, and I'm close to somebody else impacted by your social media following. I'll wear those biases and I mention them so it's clear if/when I diverge into addressing you rather than your arguments.

I'll address LARP since that, rather than conventions, is where I suspect we have common interets.

No contact orders are a great tool, and viable only at the high-population end of the spectrum; the PDs, the LTs the CPs - everyone else needs to manage (IMO) their Ref welfare, followed by their crew welfare, then their player welfare in a triage system. The best tool for tiny, tiny games is simply refusal of service - economically, getting bookings to sign up to a code of conduct and rigorously enforcing that. By this stage we're into an Adult Safeguarding style of framework, which means ('sup Risk Assessments!) having robust codes of conduct, booking contracts that necessarily link into those and ensuring the means to pull people who break those contracts from a game and get them home safely should something go wrong.
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
Eh, probably not a good idea to stick my neck out and make this my 're-entry' to this forum, but what the heck. There's a heck of a lot of stuff here to address and talk about.

I can't say that Sean and I got on and, in fact, I probably have every reason to celebrate his 'fall from grace'. As a member of the extreme end of 'social justice warriors,' he's in good company having had this happen though. It's almost a trope. He helped the campaign to have at least one of my games pulled from sale - and yes, that is a form of censorship according to the ACLU and I'm sure other people can point to other well-meaning misdeeds on his behalf. That seems to be something that has been mentioned in this thread.

From what I can decipher of what he's said, this seems roughly analogous to the accusations made against Lawrence Krauss, which read as socially awkward misunderstandings and cringeworthy obliviousness. Social awkwardness and people on the spectrum may be something both the skeptic community and the gaming community have in common, which could account for the bacchanal atmosphere some 'Nerd Proms' descend into.

Even though I've got a good reason to personally dislike him on that basis, I'm just not prepared to throw him under the bus any more than I would anyone else. There are accusations, but that doesn't make them facts. As others have pointed out we have a legal principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'. Others have suggested that this is somehow a bad principle or limited to a purely legal context. That isn't the case, it's a basic logical principle - the burden of proof - which is why it's utilised in legal cases as well as science, and why it's a good general rule for life. Sure, personal bias and relationships can get in the way, but that's precisely why we have processes in both these spheres to encourage objectivity.

We are, however, operating in the social sphere and it seems unlikely that any legal action will result from this. So we have a largely anonymous set of claims against a publicly identified figure, with no way for most of us to confirm whether or not any of it has happened. Furthermore, he's apparently not allowed to present his side of things without being censored. This hardly seems fair or just, though one can certainly appreciate why it would worry people for accusers to be identified. Ideally, this would be handled by the courts and both accuser and accused would remain anonymous until such time as a judgement was rendered.

The world is less than ideal though and we must make do.

Part of that 'making do' should be extending the benefit of the doubt. Accusations such as this, true or false, ruin people. As little as a couple of tweets can see people lose their relationships, jobs, future prospects and end up with an internet profile that renders them socially toxic and unemployable for years to come. This happens whether or not they've actually done anything at all. Surely we can agree that this isn't a good way to proceed? To - metaphorically - lynch someone, purely because an accusation is made? That can lead to some very dark places.

By all means take precautions, investigate further, but don't lose sight of the principle of justice and fairness in the pursuit of social 'justice'.

Contrary to what some likely think, I'm all for social justice in terms of treating people equally and fairly. Ironically it's these left/lib values that are the very things that have lead me to oppose the ideologically drive 'regressive left' which seems to be in full voice throughout this thread. That doesn't mean I'm on the side of the populist right, the Jordan Petersons and their ilk either, certainly not on the side of them 'they're all lying' kind of people in this thread.

That said, it's worth pointing out that this kind of thing isn't unknown, certainly in activist circles. There was collusion and plotting in the case against Gregory Allen Elliot and, more sinisterly, in the Jian Ghomeshi trial - both instances in Canada. I'm most aware of issues in Canada thanks to Diana Davison's work with The Lighthouse Project. The fact of the matter is that we really have no idea how many accusations are false. Estimates vary horrendously and while people rightly decry how few sexual misconduct or rape cases are prosecuted, the same is true - perhaps even more so - for false accusations. They're hard to prosecute for many of the same reasons that sex crimes are hard to prosecute, with additional political issues not unlike the ones that have caused problems with prosecuting grooming gangs in the UK.

It's anywhere from that tiny percentage we're aware of, up to the full number of claims that are never prosecuted. Neither extreme is likely, but anecdotally police officers and investigators state that it's higher than we might think. Still that's colloquial and we shouldn't put too much weight on that either.

It's a conundrum. How do we address the clear issues that there are in prosecuting these cases while still providing due process and consideration for the accused? That's a problem more for the courts than us, but not prosecuting witchhunts also seems like a no-brainer. 'Trust but verify' rather than 'Listen and believe' as we used to say in GG. Speaking of which, it was brought up in the context of supposedly being a hate movement, which it was not and actual evidence exists contrary to that belief. That just goes to show that even evidence won't convince some people.

Some people want to address it by lowering the standard of evidence, but the advent of genetic forensics has cleared a lot of people who were convicted on the basis of testimony and accusations. Lowering the standard of evidence doesn't seem like a good idea and that does mean that guilty people are going to go free. Blackstone's Formulation remains a useful ethical guide and it was rather horrifying to see people in this thread decrying it and being willing to see innocent people jailed, or worse.

Others, even more horrifyingly, have tried to get things shifted to an inquisitorial system of justice in sexual cases. Why this is a terrible idea should be clear to anyone.

So there doesn't appear to be any good solutions to that problem, but that's one for the legal systems and the courts. I would suggest that we - as individuals - give the benefit of the doubt and try to take some of the heat out of this febrile atmosphere, but I don't see that kind of logic going over too well with many people. In fact, it - and much of this post most likely - will be taken as something that it isn't. A protection of abusers, or an attack on the (allegedly) abused. That's how bad things have gotten. Not to mention that often the people you have to defend the rights of, are unpleasant. They might be creepy, they might be fascists, they might be paedophiles, but even genuinely, provenly repugnant people still have human rights.

As to conventions? I don't think anti-harassment policies are a good idea. I think we already have a societal one called 'the law'. This doesn't mean I'm pro-harassment, and I have had to intercede myself at events in the past. I am, however, concerned about these policies as many of them seem to be ideologically driven and to 'Trojan Horse' agendas and censorship. I've attended more than one convention which, if the policy were strictly enforced, would have had no sales room and no games. Many of these policies derive from the pattern on the Geek Feminism Wiki, and this has caused problems elsewhere, let alone gaming cons. I am very pleased to see that Dragonmeet has walked back their version some since the last one I attended. Still, they seem completely unnecessary and very open for abuse. All it takes is one person to be a jerk and either the con staff will be outed as hypocrites, or things will go horribly wrong.

Between the law and looking out for each other, I think we have all the tools we need. Having anti-harassment policies seems pointless and, I hate to say it since the term gets abused, but it seems like 'virtue signalling'. I mean, they're even measuring skirts at PAX now. It's like we've gone back in time 70 years, not forward, and yet it's being driven by people who call themselves 'progressive'. It's all rather confusing to a grumpy old leftie libertine.

Of course, these things all move so fast that something else may have come out even while I was writing this, but I think there's enough there that's generally applicable to the broader issue I think.

To reiterate, because people tend to be a bit hard of understanding on these issues and to infer things that aren't said.

  • These are serious issues, which I take seriously.
  • Sexual crimes and misdemeanours are horrible and a strong stance should be taken against them.
  • Accusations should be taken seriously.
  • I don't think the current witchhunt atmosphere is productive or useful and may have gone too far the other way.
  • Justice and fairness demand we consider people innocent until proven guilty, even in our personal lives.
  • People shouldn't be ruined on the basis of a mere accusation alone.
  • These things are business for the courts.
  • Antiharassment policies are unnecessary, which doesn't mean I accept or condone harassment.

Hopefully people will address the points.
Welcome back. Probably should have checked the rules before trotting out derogatory terms like “social justice warrior” and “virtue signalling”. Don’t post in the thread again, please.
 

Afrodyte

Villager
If you were accused of something, wouldn't you want there to be a degree of scepticism and a requirement for something backing it up?

Empathy is a two-way street here I think.
That's a lovely abstract intellectual discussion.

Still want the pics though.

Also, at these events, would I be allowed to bring my own beverages, to be on the safe side?
 

GRIMJIM

Villager
That's likely at the crux of the issue, Grim. I mean, I'm keeping an eye on you throughout - declaration time; I'm married to somebody you directly harassed back in the day, and I'm close to somebody else impacted by your social media following. I'll wear those biases and I mention them so it's clear if/when I diverge into addressing you rather than your arguments.

I'll address LARP since that, rather than conventions, is where I suspect we have common interets.

No contact orders are a great tool, and viable only at the high-population end of the spectrum; the PDs, the LTs the CPs - everyone else needs to manage (IMO) their Ref welfare, followed by their crew welfare, then their player welfare in a triage system. The best tool for tiny, tiny games is simply refusal of service - economically, getting bookings to sign up to a code of conduct and rigorously enforcing that. By this stage we're into an Adult Safeguarding style of framework, which means ('sup Risk Assessments!) having robust codes of conduct, booking contracts that necessarily link into those and ensuring the means to pull people who break those contracts from a game and get them home safely should something go wrong.
Well I can't very well leave that hanging without a response since it's an accusation.

I have never harassed anyone, or directed anyone to harass anyone and I'll mind you to back that up. I have certainly had disagreements and strong ones with people, reframing disagreement as 'harassment' has sadly become a common tactic, and was back in the day too. Sad to have seen it spread. Obnoxious behaviour, cheating, cliqueishness and so on sometimes elicits a negative response.

What you suggest here sounds rife with clique favouritism, bias, social ostracism and 'mean girls'. This seems like a source of abuse, rather than something to prevent it. Part of the problem, not any sort of solution.
 
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