We all knew I’d end up posting a follow-up to yesterday’s piece about Worldcon’s expulsion of Dave Truesdale, right?
A lot more information has come out in the past 24 hours. At this point, it’s obvious from what’s been shared publicly that Dave Truesdale violated multiple items of Worldcon’s posted code of conduct, and that this was something done with a great deal of planning and forethought.
The more we learn about Truesdale’s actions, the more it’s become clear to me that the con made the right call in kicking his ass out. Not for his political beliefs. Not for derailing a panel or utterly failing to do his job as moderator. But for his planned and deliberate disruption of the convention. He also recorded (and intends to publish) panelists without their knowledge or consent, among other things.
(And there are other things as well, some of which have not been shared publicly. I don’t know when or if that will change.)
Part of my frustration yesterday was that Worldcon put Truesdale on this panel as moderator to begin with. He’s someone whose over-the-top rants I’ve been aware of for years, if not decades, including his conflicts with Eugie Foster, his hostility toward attempts at inclusiveness and spotlighting authors traditionally excluded from the genre, his behavior after the SFWA Bulletin cover mess a few years back, and much more.
As one person put it on Twitter, “Truesdale’s gonna Truesdale.”
A number of people pushed back on this, and made good and valid points about how much we can expect programming volunteers to know about the history and background of their panelists and moderators.
I find myself thinking of last year, when I was editing Invisible 2, and ended up running a blog post by someone who was known in other circles to be…problematic, at best. I had no clue. One suggestion (which I’m hoping to follow) was that I needed a co-editor who might be more aware of areas like that. Ultimately, that mess was my responsibility as editor. But is it fair to expect me to have vetted all of my potential contributors?
And I only had about twenty. Worldcon has a hell of a lot more.
The programming mess at World Fantasy Con also comes to mind. There’s a general sense that WFC should have known what they were getting when they put Darrel Schweitzer in charge of programming. But then, there’s a difference between selecting someone to run your entire programming division vs. going through all of the volunteer panelists and moderators.
Ideally, I do think there should be awareness of who’s being put on panels, and recognition that when you put someone like Truesdale in charge of a panel, there’s a good chance you’re gonna get a dumpster fire. But that’s easier said than done. We’re not all online. We’re not all in the same circles.
I don’t have an answer on this one, but I welcome people’s thoughts.
A note to myself for future reference: Posting something potentially inflammatory before spending most of the day away from the internet and visiting friends? Bad idea…
We’ve seen the predictable whining that the thought-police banned Truesdale for his beliefs. If that was the case, then I do think that would be a problem.
But that’s bullshit. Truesdale was banned for his actions.
That’s a really important distinction to me, and sometimes it’s a confusing or complicated line to try to draw. It’s one of the things I was concerned about yesterday, when less was known. Now, this is about me personally. I don’t expect or demand everyone to agree with me on this — I’m not sure I can even explain it that well — but that distinction between trying to judge people’s beliefs vs. judging based on their actions is pretty much a core principle for me. (Even if, being human myself, I sometimes fail to perfectly live up to it.)
I hope that made sense.
In conclusion, from what I’ve seen now, Dave was kicked out for his actions, which violated multiple aspects of the code of conduct. And I’m okay with that. (The kicking out part, not the violating the code of conduct part…)
Also, yesterday gave me a bit of internet burnout. I’ll keep reading comments, but I probably won’t be responding/posting much more today.