On Bigots, Bullies, and Conventions

Posted on 26 June 2018 | No responses

Earlier this month, I resigned my position as Director’s Second of Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con. You can read my rationale at the time, reasoning I still stand behind solidly, on my website here: https://richardfife.com/2018/06/my-resignation-from-dragon-con/

In the several weeks since my decision, I have had numerous conversations with people I deeply respect, exploring my reasoning. The discussions were centrally one of tolerance vs exclusion. See, my obvious stance is that people like John Ringo should not be invited to conventions, whereas others argue that he has a fan base that wants to see him, and we would be exclusionary and elitist to not invite him. That we would be the worst kind of political ostriches, refusing to engage “the other side” if we “deplatformed” him.

Here’s the thing: conservative politics, while I don’t agree with them, don’t outright disgust me. Even if your politics are conspiracy level assertions about chem-trails and deep state plots, if you don’t talk about that and you are a quality writer with something to add, sure, come to any convention I’m part of. I promise not to talk about my liberal views of universal healthcare and subsidized college.

No, what it is about John and many like him that I feel disqualifies him from coming to a convention is his behavior. See, he is a mediocre writer that has a relatively small but extremely enthusiastic fan base, and who has a puffed up opinion of himself. When challenged, he can’t defend himself, and so he attacks the person. He is also a sad, insecure man who thinks insulting and denigrating others is funny, and that when people laugh at his attacks (because they are rotten people too), he thinks it means he is popular and people like him. In short, John Ringo is the very model of an elementary playground bully.

Every convention has a harassment policy. And, even be it ConCarolinas or Dragon Con, I am sure that policy would very quickly eject any attendee that was bullying another attendee. So why should guests be immune to this policy? Why should anyone be not just allowed to attend, but invited to, when they are repeated breakers of said policy?

This doesn’t come down to limiting free speech, or taking political sides, or being intolerant. Intolerance stems from judging a person on factors outside their control. This is about judging a person on their behavior, and be it intolerance itself or simply bullying and harassing, a convention is fully in the right to exclude a person who has a long, recorded history—both at that convention and at others—for the safety and comfort of its attendees and other guests. No one is entitled to come to a convention. No one is entitled to be on panels. These are privileges and honors, and they can and should be taken away from those who show they are not deserving of them.

And yes, John Ringo, whom I hate to continue to reference but who is the center of recent controversies, is a documented bully. He is getting the attention he so sorely desires, and because Dragon Con mistakenly thinks a history of harassment is “politics”, he has been invited—yes, actively invited!—back to Dragon Con while those who called him what he is have been driven off, all in the name of not doing anything and staying “apolitical”.

So, I am going to call to action. If you have feelings about this, think that a serial harasser shouldn’t be held up and celebrated, contact Dragon Con. Let them know your concerns. If a geeky celebrity you like, respect, and follow is registered to be a guest at Dragon Con, ask them what they think of a known harasser being actively invited to the con.
You can reach Dragon Con here: http://www.dragoncon.org/?q=contact-us

Under the department, I recommend sending your concerns to “Guests and Media” and “Fan Track Operations”, as those are the departments directly interfacing and working with people like John Ringo.

Dragon Con has advised John they expect “push back” on his guesting, but that this “kerfuffle” will just pass over. As I said in my resignation, the masses don’t care. I suggest you show them otherwise.

And, to make things even easier, here is an easy template:

Subject: “John Ringo”
Message: I have become aware that John Ringo, a documented harasser and bully, has been invited to Dragon Con as a guest, and that track directors were fired over publicly asserting they would not use him (or others like him) on panels because he is a bully and a harasser. Please withdraw John Ringo’s guest status and bar him from being on panels. This is not about his politics. It is about his behavior. Guests should be held up to the Harassment Policy the same as all others.

Spread the word. We can be upset and emote all we want on Facebook and Twitter, but until you tell the decision makers you are upset, they won’t care. Until you hit them where it hurts, they will continue to support hate and bigotry and mask it by claiming they aren’t political. No position is a position. It is the position of “we don’t care”. They are supporting bigotry and hate. Let them know we don’t.

Boost the signal.

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Categories: GeekLife

Charlotte’s Farewell Post as Director, Fantasy Lit, Dragon Con

Posted on 7 June 2018 | No responses

With Permission, I am posting this without comment so that it can still be seen. It had originally been posted to the Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con Facebook page, which was taken down by Facebook. For good reasons, Charlotte did not want to post this on her personal wall, so I am giving it a home here.


Hi, everyone. It’s Charlotte.

Effective immediately, I am no longer the Fantasy Literature Fan Track Director.

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My Resignation from Dragon Con

Posted on 7 June 2018 | No responses

The below is my resignation as Director’s Second of Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con, as I sent it in. For some quick context:

  • The prior director had acted out of line and was due some form of censure, along the lines of public apology and a warning to chill.
  • Instead of a transparent process, she was fired without being allowed to defend herself, and before she was even informed that she was being fired, they were soliciting potential new directors.
  • The “greater crime” for which she was fired was that she was vocally expressing that she would not provide a platform for bigotry and hate in her programming.

So, without further adieu, and with the intent to allow this to be shared easily across social media platforms (I’d already shared it on Facebook), my letter of resignation to Dragon Con:

To: Director, Fantasy Literature
CC: Sr. Director, Fan Track Operations; Dragon Con Board of Directors
Thank you for the opportunity to stay on as Director’s Second for Fantasy Literature. After a long time mulling it over, I regret to inform you that I cannot, in good conscience, continue on in this position.

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JordanCon 2018

Posted on 24 April 2018 | No responses

Seems I only ever post after a convention now. That’ll change one day? Who knows. I’ve realized that I’m not a “blogger” per se. But, it is a rainy day, I have the day off to recover from my vacation, so: Post-Con stuff!

JordanCon 10 was amazing, and I have to say that having an assistant director for the Writers Track has made all the difference. I have time to breathe, to relax, and to enjoy the con outside of my track room. Some highlights of the convention:

  1. We had 850ish attendees this weekend, with the vast majority showing up on Friday (Badge 700 was printed on the first day)
  2. Even on Friday, my panels had good attendance, and in what I observed (again, I thankfully was able to get out of the room for several panels), the numbers only kept going up on how many we had sitting in the room. We even had a 3/4 full room Saturday Night during the dance party and first thing Sunday Morning. Impressive achievements, if I say so myself.
  3. People like hands-on workshopy type things. We had 3 panels that directly engaged with attendees work: a 1000 word pre-submitted workshop, a 600 word pre-submitted “Slush” panel, and a Flash Fiction Writing workshop/panel. Now I have to try and decide how to balance that.

Deeper thoughts  below the break.

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DragonCon 2017

Posted on 6 September 2017 | No responses

Just got back from D*Con 2017. It was an amazing experience where I met new authors, visited with old friends, and had a refreshing revitalization of my sense of self that had gone too long without nourishment. I had typed up some sappy self-affirmation stuff, but y’all don’t need that. It was for me. Instead, have this wonderful bullet point list of the great times I had at con:

  • Got to be Director’s Second for Fantasy Literature this year, meaning I moderated more panels and got to take a hand in shaping the programming. I think it was a great success.
  • 5 hours of karaoke Friday night. That’s right, I ran it for 5 bloody hours. Lots of good singers. Lots of not so good singers. But everyone had fun, and that is the point.
  • Panels on the Science of Fantasy, Inaccuracies commonly seen, and Why Boob-armor needs to be less of a thing.
  • Not one but TWO great evenings at the Westin Bar meeting and chatting with writer and creative types. One of these nights included drinking “pie” that was closer to “rotgut moonshine” with Laurel K Hamilton’s posse. They are fun. The other night involved drinking with Christopher Paolini and getting ammo to taunt my track director with for years to come.
  • I only bought one thing in the dealers hall: a d20. I paid a buck-a-side, but this is no regular d20. It is a Boulder, and I could crush the skull of an unruly player no problem with it. I shall make it my boss die an name it “Curb-Stomp”. My luck, it will just roll 1s.

At the Dead-Dog party, they told us attendance topped 80k. That’s a lot of geeks, and a lot to do. And boy do I feel like I didn’t even come close to getting to do even just the things I really wanted to do. I missed the art show completely, didn’t see any gaming, and didn’t attend any panels outside of Fantasy Lit. But even for all that, I still feel like DragonCon is a chance to “come home”. For as big as the convention is, a person can make of it exactly what they will, and it will be everything you needed it to be.

Until next September Dragon Con!

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Categories: GeekLife

JordanCon 2017

Posted on 25 April 2017 | No responses

Just got back from JordanCon 2017 down in Atlanta, and boy that was a blast. I have to say, I am becoming more and more happy with the way this con is growing, and with the Writers’ Track in particular. Yes, I’m biased since I run said track, but I’m still happy. I honestly don’t know what I enjoy more: seeing the aspiring writers eyes light up as they listen to the panels and have their questions answered, or the guests making having great times and making new friends and finding new readers. And now, back to the writing grindstone, all refreshed myself with creative juices.

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Yog’s Law

Posted on 1 May 2016 | No responses

There is a thing in writing called “Yog’s Law”, which is “All money should flow to the author.” In short, this means that a writer shouldn’t pay for any services to polish and perfect their work, especially since typically these services are scams. I am coming to realize Yog’s Law needs revisited. Because I have broken Yog’s Law, and I couldn’t be happier for it.

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Categories: Writing

On Earthsea Revisited

Posted on 8 April 2016 | No responses

So, I muscled through reading A Wizard of Earthsea. About halfway through, the generation-prior writing style stopped sticking in my craw, and honestly, it reminded me a lot of reading the old Icelandic Sagas, but I am still of conflicted thought.

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Categories: Writing

Sad Endings

Posted on 5 April 2016 | No responses

Listened to the last quarter of Hamilton on the way into work today. As always, hit me right in the feels. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do (at least some of us) enjoy amazingly sad endings? I mean, I’ve written my fair share of them, but the mechanic of why they work still kind of puzzles me.

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Categories: Writing

Evolution of Writing

Posted on 29 March 2016 | No responses

First of all: NOPE, NOT DEAD!

I’ve just spent the last two years consumed in local theatre, a disease I am not entirely recovered from yet, but there it is. On the bright side, I have finished a redraft novel “Of Brass and Blood” that takes place 5 years after the events of Tijervyn, but over in Adervyn, and has nothing at all to do with Tijervyn plot wise, probably because the story was written before Tijervyn. So yeah, redraft done, and actually in the hands of beta readers now. Feeling really good about this one, going to seek traditional publishing.

But, that isn’t what I’m writing a blog post, because “State of the Blogs” are so… well… Livejournal. Let’s get some meat, and for that, I want to muse on the craft of writing through generations. I’ll try to not get pretentious, but no promises.

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