I should probably keep out of this argument, as I don’t go to cons much. However, there looks to be a conflict going on between con management and their employees/guests related to harassment policies that deserves a mention.

A while back I featured Megan Frank and her complaints about Lou Antonelli that led to her resignation as a volunteer from Sasquan. She went on to publish the private emails of the committee, which I thought was a form of harassment. Now Mark Oshiro has published complaints about ConQuesT 46 on his Facebook page. This appears to be the new paradigm in dealing with complaints. When the offended individuals don’t get the results they want, they go public, exacting their pound of flesh by bad-mouthing the con and its management. That’s not to say their complaints are unfounded. It’s also not to say I wouldn’t do the same thing myself. In my previous blog on this, I recommended personal self-defense rather than expecting a committee to handle things for you. Still, there are issues.

The first issue is actual offenses. In this case Oshiro has identified a lot of stuff as harassment that looks like just typically rude and overbearing people at the con, but he does have two complaints that are serious. One of these is repeated, unwanted and unsolicited physical contact from another panelist, and the other is being treated as a second-class Guest of Honor by con management. When Oshiro filed complaints in accordance with the con’s policies, it became clear over several months that the committee was paralyzed, unable to act and hoping he would forget about the whole thing. This is wrong. When there have been actual infringements, then the committee needs to get off their butts and do something.

The other issue is why there was no action on Oshiro’s complaints. For one thing, he might have overreached, expecting the committee to censure people who are only being their rude, micro-aggressive selves. I haven’t seen the complaints, of course, but no amount of policy is going to reshape people into something they’re not. On the serious complaints, the question is whether the con’s policies are actually workable. I discussed the possible consequences of zero tolerance policies a while back. Here’s an example of the boondoggle. When there’s a zero tolerance policy and the con management is at fault, what are they going to do? Ban themselves?

Harassment committees need to have policies that allow discretion and intelligent, reasonable responses. Otherwise they’re going to end up useless.