News & Blog

Not Cool, Readercon — Part 2

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

from: Nicholas Kaufmann
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.

4 responses to “Not Cool, Readercon — Part 2”

  1. Bad Wolf says:

    Mr. Kaufman bravo to you. It is people like you that give me hope that, although we still have a long way to go on eradicating sexism, there *has* and continues to be progress. I’m so sick of men who, faced with these issues, try to brush it off as something that needn’t be responded to or made a bid deal of. Again, thank you and bravo.

    Lillian Wolf

    • Nick says:

      Thanks, Lillian. I appreciate the support. Also, I love that you call yourself Bad Wolf! Intentionally or not, it reminds me of Doctor Who!

      • Bad Wolf says:

        It’s TOTALLY intentional! Heh. It was a no brainer given my Whoiness (yeah I made that up) and my last name.;-) Plus I kinda have a temper. 😉

  2. […] Other blogs: Genevieve Valentine: Readercon: The Bad and the Ugly (Disclosure: Genevieve was one of my roommates and cheap theater buddies in London, so I’m extra super angry that this happened to a good friend and an amazing writer.) Shea Wong: When enough is not enough: Rene Walling, Genevieve Valentine, and Readercon Ekaterina Sedia: That ReaderCon Thing Team Valkyrie: Zero-Tolerance Except if Sowwies, aka That Noise Happening with ReaderCon Nicholas Kaufman: Not Cool, ReaderCon […]

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