I’m running a little behind on this, but I’ve caught up on things today, so I’ll devote a few minutes to pointing it out. The target this time is John Ringo, who started writing military SF in 1999 and has had several appearances on the New York Times bestseller list. He was scheduled as a special guest for ConCarolinas 2018, to be held starting June 1 in Charlotte, but has now withdrawn. As far as I can tell, Ringo has not been involved in the Sad/Rabid Puppies activist movement at all, so he was singled out apparently based on the community’s perceptions of his politics.

You’d think a writer with these credentials would be considered an asset for any SFF convention, but Ringo falls on the conservative side of the spectrum. According to Eric Flint, Ringo “more-or-less anchors the right wing in science fiction.”

Ringo was challenged as a guest with the usual charges against conservative writers, that he is racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. I’m not familiar with his work, so I checked around. Regardless of the author’s conservatism, his novels seem to feature diverse characters, and Flint even noted that in some cases Ringo stretches reality in his representation of powerful women fighters. I also found an opinion from the female ex-military R.G. Dole that the question is a matter of realism versus fantasy, and that Ringo represents things as they happen in the real world, rather than a fantasy world we’d like to believe in.

After the Con announced Ringo as special guest, the opposition quickly heated up with other guests and attendees threatening to boycott. On social media, Ringo’s work was described as “rape fantasy” and comments ran to the effect that female attendees would not feel safe with him there, presumably because of this Ghost series.

At first the Con staff tried to stand their ground, quoting their policy against harassment, but eventually the hostility got to the point where they encouraged Ringo to withdraw due concerns about his personal safety—which he then did. Jon Del Arroz immediately interpreted this as trend toward bans on conservative authors at SFF conventions.

So, what did this accomplish? It’s certainly not going to hurt John Ringo a lot. He’s already got a solid spot on a national Best Seller list and this is just more publicity for him. It seriously annoyed the staff at the Con, as John is a successful author and had by far the biggest fan base of the invited guests. As a result of the harassment, they were faced with hiring expensive security to ensure his safety and faced liability issues in case things got out of hand. Con attendees lost out on Ringo’s input on the panels, where he might have discussed his personal approach to writing and marketing. Basically, all I can see that this did was provide still another example of activist author bullying. In this case, the staff at the Con was bullied, too. How should the SFF community respond?

I think I need to buy and review few of Ringo’s books. I might attend the Con in support of the staff, too.

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