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Not Cool, Readercon — Part 2 - Nicholas Kaufmann's Journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Not Cool, Readercon — Part 2 [Jul. 27th, 2012|08:26 pm]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

Here is a copy of the email I sent the Readercon board tonight:

from: Nicholas Kaufmann nick.kaufmann@gmail.com
to: info@readercon.org
date: Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 8:13 PM
subject: Re: Rene Walling

Dear Readercon Board,

I am deeply disappointed in the way the situation regarding Rene Walling’s repeated harassment of Genevieve Valentine at this year’s Readercon has been handled. Aside from violating your own zero-tolerance policy toward harassment, a policy I heretofore applauded Readercon for implementing, and which I now see is not zero-tolerance at all, I find the Board’s decision to ban Mr. Walling for only two years, instead of permanently as proscribed in the policy, incredibly short-sighted.

I presume you believe that Mr. Walling will spend those two years at a finishing school, where he will learn to act courteously and respectfully toward others, and return to Readercon in 2015 a new man who has learned his lesson. Instead, the only lesson you have taught Mr. Walling is that he can do as he pleases and skate by with little more than a slap on the wrists. By contrast, the lesson you have taught the rest of us is that you do not take your attending membership’s safety and comfort seriously.

My wife and I have enjoyed coming to Readercon for the past two years, but we no longer feel the need to attend a convention where our safety and comfort are not taken seriously. We are not alone in feeling this way, either. I’m sure you’ve already noticed all the outraged and astonished comments from Readercon attendees on Twitter, Facebook, Livejournal, Google+, and elsewhere. But I can only speak for us when I say that we will not be returning to Readercon until this situation is rectified and you stand by your stated policy and ban Mr. Walling permanently. Because otherwise, next time, emboldened by the favored status you have granted him, Mr. Walling will have no reason to comport himself properly, and this will all happen again. At Readercon. Under your watch. Just as it did this time. So I suppose the question is, do you want to handle this properly now, or do you want to have to deal with it all over again, in a much more compounded manner, later? Because it takes a lot to make people who act this way stop acting this way, and a slap on the wrist won’t do it.

Genevieve Valentine is a talented author and well-liked personality who is a valuable asset to Readercon. You may have lost her already because of this. How many more are you willing to lose just so you can coddle someone who, by your own admission, broke your own rules?

Nicholas Kaufmann

While I was writing it, the Readercon Board came out with their own public statement, which you can see here. If you’re wondering why Mr. Walling was banned for only two years instead of permanently, let me spoil it for you now: He’s really, really sorry. Whoopsie! Guess he shouldn’t have followed her around like a stalker after all, or said weird things to her about the naughty thoughts she was putting in his head, or put his arms around her from behind in a surprise hug in a crowded hallway, or then followed her around some more insisting he only wanted to apologize despite repeatedly being told to leave her alone. But I’m sure he’ll never, ever do it again, because he’s super duper sorry.

My Readercon stance remains as I wrote above. Either they rectify this egregiousness, or I never go to Readercon again.

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.


[User Picture]From: livia_llewellyn
2012-07-28 12:33 am (UTC)
Excellent letter. I would write one, but I don't think I could do it without using the word "fuck" about a thousand times.
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[User Picture]From: sinboy
2012-07-28 12:36 am (UTC)
You are 100% right in your description of the implications, the "lesson" and the face the board is presenting to the world.
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[User Picture]From: pierceheart
2012-07-28 12:42 am (UTC)
I can't wait until a lawsuit develops from this.

Violating a clearly written policy for any reason which helps someone who was a harasser, and may still be?

Best of luck with that.
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[User Picture]From: jimhines
2012-07-28 01:03 am (UTC)
Good letter. And thank you for the link to the Readercon statement.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: heavenscalyx
2012-07-28 04:28 pm (UTC)
One of the members of the Board is a lawyer. I found her on LinkedIn.
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[User Picture]From: teddywolf
2012-07-28 04:53 pm (UTC)
Somehow this does not fill me with confidence.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2012-07-28 02:12 am (UTC)
you know what this reminds me of? every single time i'd change my mind about leaving my ex-husband and then every time i'd change my mind about leaving the following boyfriend. it's just like that. "i'm so sorry!" "no, it's okay, honey." no, it's not.
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[User Picture]From: livejournal
2012-07-28 03:31 am (UTC)

Shorter Readercon Board of Directors statement

User yendi referenced to your post from Shorter Readercon Board of Directors statement saying: [...] Nicholas Kaufman is much more diplomatic over here [...]
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: vschanoes
2012-07-28 05:18 am (UTC)
This is an excellent letter. I keep meaning to write a post or a letter, but I'm actually so upset and outraged that I can't get it together.
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2012-07-28 12:01 pm (UTC)
I find that it helps.
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[User Picture]From: livejournal
2012-07-28 04:40 pm (UTC)

why I'm not likely to ever go back to Readercon now

User kradical referenced to your post from why I'm not likely to ever go back to Readercon now saying: [...] out against this, both male and female -- as a representative sample, here's my buddy Nick Kaufmann [...]
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[User Picture]From: livejournal
2012-07-28 08:43 pm (UTC)

Livia Beat Me To "Oh, Readercon: NO"

User orrin referenced to your post from Livia Beat Me To "Oh, Readercon: NO" saying: [...] least more or less. Also, Nick Kaufman wrote a letter saying a lot of the same things I'm feeling [...]
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: livejournal
2012-07-29 11:54 pm (UTC)

July 30, 2012 Links and Plugs

User charlesatan referenced to your post from July 30, 2012 Links and Plugs saying: [...] las Kaufmann on Not Cool, Readercon — Part 2 [...]
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: David Schwartz
2014-02-23 09:29 am (UTC)

That's the thing about zero tolerance policies

Even assuming the board's judgment is correct and a less severe punishment really is warranted, that's precisely the argument that you reject when you adopt a zero tolerance policy. We all understand that zero tolerance policies remove discretion so that unfair punishments are possible. But the benefit of a zero tolerance policy is that it assures people that exactly what happened here wouldn't happen. The Board reneged on that assurance.
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