A serious matter concerning common sense and manners or the lack thereof...

I just caught Mr. Willeford's posting in the PA Steampunk group page on FB and thought it would be in the lines of a quick reminder of just how quickly the politically correct kneejerk can become a serious problem in and of itself.

Day 35: Jeff Mach’s Giant Robot- The last update
“Why I will NOT be attending the Steampunk World’s Fair or any other Jeff Mach events.

If you went to work and found this sign on the door, would you just walk in and accept this?

“What you should do if you’re accused of harassment:
We ask that you work with the event to resolve the incident as quickly and correctly as possible. There are steps that both you and the event can take to help resolve the situation.
First accept that you’ve been accused of violating someone else’s boundaries, no matter how severely. Given the rarity of false complaints you should also accept the fact that it is more likely than not that you actually did violate someone else’s boundaries. If this was done out of ignorance the event can help educate you so that you do not repeat your error. We can help you apologize in a safe manner. We may give you a lift to the train station.
Often when people are accused of violating another’s boundaries they react out of anger. This is not helpful to either you, the event or the person whose consent you violated. We will not tolerate victim blaming, shaming, witch hunts, or retaliation. Each of these can, in and of itself, result in you being banned from our events.
We are not going to identify your accuser or accusers to you. DO NOT ASK. We understand that this seems unfair and is frustrating from your perspective. However, anonymity is a cornerstone of safety for all involved .
Should we find that you more likely than not intentionally violated another’s consent, taken actions that run counter to the goals of consent culture, egregiously or repeatedly harassed people we will without hesitation revoke your admission to the event without refund. We reserve the right to refuse you future admissions for any length of time to any of our events.
Regarding false complaints:
We understand that many people fear false complaints. False complaints have the potential to harm innocent people in very real and lasting ways. However, false complaints make up a very small percentage of overall complaints, however our policy is to investigate each complaint for the safety of all involved.”

I have not edited this at all. It was cut and pasted from the Steampunk World’s Fair website as part of their general harassment policy. 
I showed this to my lawyer, they advised me not attend this event. They showed it to another lawyer, whose response was, “WTF?”

I’m sorry, I have never been accused of harassment at a convention, I have no interest in harassing anyone, but I do not feel safe at any event where all one has to do to act out on another person is accuse them with the assurance of the presumption of guilt, with no repercussions what so ever. I cannot support an event that plans to implement such a policy.

The above mentioned segment is the only part of the full harassment policy I am addressing. I have no comment at all about the rest of their policy.

I do have a great deal of concern about the safety of all at events. 
This is an excerpt from a post I made last year on the subject and I still believe strongly in this:
Convention “Season” is in full swing. Dragon Con is approaching and there are loads of other events coming up. Many of these events are getting more and more popular and “fandom” has grown and diversified. I applaud this and hope for its continued growth. 
But I have noticed a trend in our little sub- culture. There is this rifting force.
I call it Fan-Friction.
There is quite a lot of talk about our social behavior at events.
“Cosplay is NOT Consent” signs, buttons and t-shirts. Various groups forming with righteous warriors pouring forth to correct all of our social ills. Convention requiring we sign behavioral agreements before we enter. Things like that. I have seen and participated in arguments about the subject. From what I have seen most everyone seems to be ok with the basics of “Don’t be a D!ck!”… it’s the borders and details that seem to make people break out the torches and pitchforks.
Well, I have no interest in arguing such things. Most of the people doing so seem to have some sort of agenda, usually it seems to be “See how forward thinking and morally superior I am! If you were a good person you would be just like me! And if you are not, you should not be allowed to go to the same events I go to.”

So instead of arguing, I’m just going to tell you how I am going to behave.

1) If I see someone grab you in what appears to be an aggressive or inappropriate manner, I will look to you, if you look like you are distressed, I will have a talk with the offending party. This talk may be as simple as having them apologize (if that is what will satisfy you.)or the type of talk that involves security and or the police. Possibly to pull my ass off them.
2) If I see someone strike you in apparent anger. I am going to land on them like and asteroid wiping out the dinosaurs. I’m sure they feel they have a good reason for their actions and I am sure I do not care.
3) You come to me and say, “This person is creeping on me and I do not feel safe or comfortable.” I am going to assume you are being sincere. If I am in my stall at an event, I will not let them in and I will have con security come to the stall to escort you to a safe place. If I am out and about. I will get you to event security. NO, I will not walk you to your room or someone else’s room. No, I will not walk you to your car or anything like that. If we are at an event, they have a responsibility for a certain level of safety, and if not the event then the venue. Those are how bad decisions happen.
4) You come to me and say, “Someone has harmed me.” See #3. If you “Don’t want to make a fuss”, then neither do I. I’m sure someone else will be glad to.
5) Someone gave you a “funny look”. Too bad. 
6) Someone said, “Nice (insert body part, either real or fictional here)”. You will live, move on.
7) Someone has threatened your person. See #1.
8) Other. What does this mean? Well, it means I am going to actually think before I do something. I’m not going to just assume you are right and charge off with sword in hand and brain in neutral just because you say you are the “victim”, but I’m also not going to assume the other person is right either. I’m going to Think and then act accordingly.

No, Cosplay is not consent, but honestly it is an invitation. Not to be abused, but to be approached. Get used to it.

Here is an important note. Notice how I said “this is what I am going to do.”? Yeah. This is not a debate; I’m not asking your permission here, this is what I will be doing. telling me I should not do this or that and should do something different. Yeah, um.

By the way, I do not expect anyone else to do any of this. Seriously, I’m like 6 ft and 200 lbs, I’m not taking a huge risk by intervening, also I am reasonably well known at the events I attend. If I say, “this person needs security.” There is a good chance security will be forthcoming. My motive is not in the realm of “White Knighting” or anything like that. It is much more mercenary. Cons are my workplace. I want my work place to be more pleasant. Telling everyone “You all play nice.” Sounds like a great idea, but has never worked in all of human history. Neither has handing out T-shirts, badges pins, feather, top hats, signs, etc. What has worked is people actually doing things. This is what I am going to do.

Some of you may be thinking, “Thomas, why didn’t you just talk to the convention organizers about your concerns?”

1) I did. Last year I discussed my concerns with this type of “Inquisition Justice”. Earlier this year I was told that my concerns were being taken into account with regards to policy. Then read the policy posted recently and I must assume my concerns were not considered valid.

2) It has to do with “spin”. The apparent new way of managing the event seems to have a way of putting a “morally superior” spin on things. I did not want to approach them and then see a post vilifying me in an attempt to invalidate my concerns.

3) Human Nature. They are not going to admit they are wrong in anyway. Doing that would call other policies into question and that would be a loss of face. 
4) This is Jeff Mach’s event and he can run it any way he likes. He has the right to do this, and I have the right to object.

I am not just thoughtlessly reacting here. I have considered Jeff Mach a friend for years and I doubt he is going to take this well. My income comes from selling at these shows. I will be taking a huge hit by refusing to attend and vend at the Steampunk World’s Fair, which is largest steampunk event in the world. I know this will put me at odds with the crew of all of the Jeff Mach events and that I will probably be banned from them for life. Some will feel compelled to smear my name in retaliation and claim that I have no care for the protection of others for daring to refuse to adhere to every single word of their edict and proclaim it as gospel. I know that this could put me out of business for ever. This is going to hurt me in so many ways, but I cannot support this. I just find the idea of this level of McCarthyistic control and Inquest Justice to be too abhorrent.

I know that the safe path for me would be to just be quiet and keep my head down hoping nothing happens to me and I escape without being reported and ejected for some imagined slight. I know I should just take the money and be silent.

I cannot do that. I seriously could not live with myself. A good friend of mine killed himself because he could no longer take this level of fear in our community. I can’t just dishonor him like that, staying quiet would feel like I was pissing on his ashes.

So there you have it.

I will deliver the Giant Robot, because I said I would. I’m glad it is nearly done because upon seeing this policy I have lost all my passion for this project, in fact, that is the part that hurts the most. But I made a promise so I will deliver it. Set it up. Put on a forced smile for the camera, and then I will leave.

Thomas has been a fantastic acquaintance and now I believe I'd actually like to get to know him better as a person and possibly a friend.

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Comment by Sgt. Ian MacBrooke on April 29, 2014 at 2:35pm

Two important updates concerning the above. Firstly, the mentioned harrassment policy has been removed from the site for further fixes and consideration...YAY! Secondly, just so no one gets the wrong idea about Thomas's and Jeff's friendship, Tom doesn't hate Jeff, just the wording of the policy. Hopefully this all comes clean and we can continue to try to attend Jeff's events without the threat of 'faktims'. TTFN.

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