Why I won’t be attending Readercon this year as planned. [rant]

So, Michael and I had been considering attending Readercon next year instead of CONvergence (they are on back-to-back weekends, so we would have to choose).

We’re not considering it any longer. Genevieve Valentine wrote a couple of weeks ago about her experiences being harassed at that convention, and reporting it to their concom.

Here’s Readercon’s official policy:


Readercon has always had a zero-tolerance harassment policy.

Harassment of any kind — including physical assault, battery, deliberate intimidation, stalking, or unwelcome physical attentions — will not be tolerated at Readercon and will result in permanent suspension of membership. [emphasis mine; you will see why in a moment]

As always, Readercon reserves the right to strip membership at its discretion.

Genevieve just reported on their verdict today. The harasser, Rene Walling, was banned for two years, rather than permanently. (Mr. Walling co-chaired the 2009 WorldCon, blogs for Tor.com, and runs a small Canadian SF press.)

This is not in accordance with their own written and published policy.

They are apparently currently rewriting their policy, presumably to retroactively work with the decision they just made.

I generally hate to get involved in these sort of things as a rule, because I don’t have the time and energy, but I’m calling bullshit.

This is not only bullshit, it’s bad management.

If your policy says “permanent ban” and “zero tolerance” than you are obligated to apply that policy to everyone. Zero tolerance is Zero. tolerance. None. No matter what. If you say “this behavior will get you permanently banned,” then you must apply that to everyone who exhibits that behavior. You cannot pick and choose depending on “well, they’re really okay/important/known to us” or “it didn’t seem that bad.”

Fair is fair. This is not fair.

Nor is rewriting your policy to match your attempt to change it in practice before the policy itself is changed. You want to rewrite it to allow more latitude than zero tolerance? Fine. Knock yourself out.


You don’t get to apply the newly rewritten policy policy retroactively. The policy that was in use at the time of the offense is the one that must be applied.

Not cool, Readercon. Not. Cool.

I can better spend my time and money elsewhere.

This is the kind of experience that discourages women from attending conventions. If I don’t feel safe reporting harassment at a convention because you have an enforceable and enforced policy in place, then I don’t feel safe being at your convention. Period.

Why, then, should I care enough about your convention to participate in it? Why would I volunteer to do panels? You’re asking me to put myself out there without the assurance that it will be safe to do so.

No, thank you.

Good luck with that whole panel parity thing.


About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a nine time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This entry was posted in conventions, puttin on my ranty pants. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why I won’t be attending Readercon this year as planned. [rant]

  1. Pingback: Under the Beret » The Readercon Thing

  2. Pingback: Readercon Bans René Walling for 2 Years « File 770

  3. Pingback: Just A Bag of Parts | What I Write

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