So, the facts are these. A female guest at ReaderCon was repeatedly harassed by another attendee. To the point where she had to point-blank say “You don’t touch me!” She brought the matter to the attention of the proper people on the con committee, who investigated. The facts of the incident are a matter of public record and not in dispute. ReaderCon has a zero-tolerance, lifetime-ban harassment policy. In short: if it can be proven you harassed another attendee of the con, you are given a permanent invitation to the world.
Except, apparently, if the harasser is a Big Name Fan. Then, he can act all contrite and get that sentence reduced to two years. Neverthemind that other people have come forward with stories of the same person indulging in exactly the same behavior at other cons.
Does ReaderCon think that this person will not only stop such behavior at future ReaderCons, but at any other cons might attend? Or — as is far more likely — said fan will simply take his act on the road elsewhere. Does ReaderCon not understand the message this is sending: that some animals are, indeed, more equal than others. Does ReaderCon not understand that, as a small con, it is in a very precarious position due to this decision?
Last year, due to frustration over lack of support and finances, we shut down the Backup Ribbon Project.
And then that ReaderCon thing happened.
So this is it, mes amies. The Backup Ribbon Project is back. Bigger, badder, and better than it was before. With one simple concept.
If you take a Backup Ribbon or you wear a Backup t-shirt, you are promising one very simple thing: You WILL be That Person to help out anybody being harassed. Gender, orientation, presentation is irrelevant. You WILL find a way to help, whether by directly intervening, getting help from elsewhere, or simply listening the person being harassed. You WILL be there for them. You WILL accept that they believe they have been harassed. You WILL NOT question them or doubt them. You WILL give them whatever help they wish.
If you believe that you are being harassed and find a person wearing a Backup Ribbon or Backup t-shirt, you can approach that person for help without fear of being judged, doubted or made to feel uncomfortable.
ReaderCon has failed its attendees. It has failed its guests. It has failed those who have worked tirelessly to make it a good and worthy con. If a con cannot, or WILL NOT, strive to be a safe place for attendees, it is time that we the fans did so. We need to remind ReaderCon and other cons that if they are truly run by fans for fans, it is their duty to not pick and choose which fans are more equal.
No judgment. No exceptions. We got each others’ back.