ETA: Updates re: Del Arroz’s lawsuit against WorldCon have been moved to #14, below.
Author Jon Del Arroz recently had his attending membership to WorldCon revoked. This generated a lot of discussion. WorldCon stated that JDA was banned:
“…because he has made it clear that he fully intends to break our code of conduct. We take that seriously. Worldcon 76 strives to be an inclusive place in fandom, as difficult as that can be, and racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our Worldcon. This expulsion is one step towards eliminating such behavior and was not taken lightly.”
A Facebook thread suggests they also received complaints from victims of Del Arroz’s harassment.
Del Arroz, unsurprisingly, disagrees:
“With Worldcon’s statements about ‘intent’ to violate their rules, and failure to specify rules, this is a clear targeting over my politics because I’m a vocal Christian and Hispanic Trump supporter.”
This seems odd, given that nobody else has been banned for being vocal Christian or Trump supporters. One of WorldCon’s guests of honor is Hispanic, so I’m not sure where he sees race is a factor here. But rather than debate this particular incident, I want to focus on some of the discussion that followed.
Del Arroz’s defenders claim he’s a nice guy, and accusations that he harasses or trolls people are absurd. Del Arroz told me on Facebook that he doesn’t “escalate feuds.” He claims he’s just the victim of blackballing, harassment, threats, and so on.
I’m not saying nobody has ever given Del Arroz shit online. He alleges that people once doxxed his children and sent a glitterbomb to his house. Both were done anonymously. I have no problem condemning both incidents, whoever was responsible. I’ve also heard that people mocked him for his last name, which…yeah, that just seems racist to me.
ETA: It looks like the alleged doxxing was actually an individual referencing a fact about Del Arroz’s child that Del Arroz himself had shared on Periscope and in earlier tweets. (I’ve blacked out that fact in the screenshot, and would appreciate it not being brought up in the comments.) Del Arroz also shared this information in a public interview.
But if you look through Jon Del Arroz’s interactions with others… Well, here’s a sampling of what people are talking about when they say Del Arroz harasses, insults, and trolls others, and distorts things for what someone once described as martyrbation. And, of course, for publicity and marketing…
My goal isn’t to trash Del Arroz, but to document a pattern of behavior.
Warning: there’s a lot of material here.
1. Autism Slur as Insult. One of the first times Jon Del Arroz came to my attention was when it was pointed out that he uses a slur about people with autism to insult/attack people he doesn’t like. I take this very personally. Trying to insult someone by accusing them of being autistic is asshole behavior. Using a slur about autism is doubly so. (ETA: Del Arroz defended this by saying, “Jim doesn’t understand humor.“)
2. BayCon. Before the WorldCon incident, Del Arroz claimed he was blackballed from BayCon in a “wanton act of discrimination.” BayCon had, in fact, not invited him to be on programming that year, but they did want him back the following year. This was part of BayCon’s policy of trying to rotate their panelists. Del Arroz was not the only one who was not invited. However, as far as I know, he’s the only one who tried to paint himself as a victim of discrimination and blackballing.
3. Codex. Del Arroz was kicked out of the Codex Writers Group last year. He claims it was because he dared to defend a conservative writer. He also says he was “hated out” because he’s a minority author. This is difficult to discuss, as one of the rules of Codex is that discussion within the group is private. I’m a member myself, and choose not to violate that rule. I’ll simply say Del Arroz was not kicked out for defending a conservative author, nor was his removal related to his being a minority. As I can’t/won’t provide screenshots, you’re welcome to believe him, me, or neither of us on this one.
4. Bigotry. Del Arroz frequently posts things many would consider prejudiced, bigoted, and/or hateful. Whether it’s proclaiming that American Muslims should be “forcibly converted to Christianity,” promoting homophobia, claiming asexuality doesn’t exist and is just an excuse for not having a girlfriend, explaining why racism isn’t sinful, laughing about how “weed is for f*gs” (4:23 in that video), or deliberately misgendering an author. (I included two Tweets in that last screenshot. For Adam-Troy Castro, Del Arroz doesn’t use gendered pronouns at all. When talking about a nonbinary author, Del Arroz misgenders then. Hard to see that as unintentional.) For someone so quick to accuse others of prejudice against him, he shows no reluctance in displaying his own.
5. Trolling. Then there’s the time he literally rallied his followers to troll SJW writers…
He also coyly suggested he was responsible for siccing 4chan on File770 to get the site taken down, though he never says this explicitly.
6. John Scalzi. I’m not sure where this all started, but long after Scalzi has blocked/muted Del Arroz and gotten on with his life, Del Arroz keeps randomly retweeting Scalzi and twisting what was said. Or accusing him of cultural appropriation over a burrito. Or taking random shots at Scalzi’s productivity. Or accusing him of hating Hispanics. Or just, you know, claiming Scalzi’s “side” defends pedophiles and destroys western civilization.
None of these were part of an ongoing conversation between Del Arroz and Scalzi. These were just examples of Del Arroz trying to stir shit. And when you have a pattern like this, with Del Arroz following Scalzi’s tweets and using them to insult Scalzi, and to stir up attacks on Scalzi from Del Arroz’s followers? That pattern of behavior becomes harassment.
Or if you’re Jon Del Arroz, I guess this is called “being nice.” (With an added accusation that your enemies are all mentally ill.)
7. Paul Weimer. Weimer is a reviewer, fan, and photographer who ended up on Jon Del Arroz’s Enemies List. As a result, just like we see with John Scalzi, we get Del Arroz randomly tagging and insulting Weimer again and again. This, despite the fact that Weimer has repeatedly asked to be left alone. He even apologized to Del Arroz. (Personally, I didn’t see anything he needed to apologize for. But Paul is a nicer person than I am.)
Del Arroz claims he’s only responding to Weimer’s attacks against him. Here’s a particularly interesting example of Del Arroz responding to one of those “attacks”:
And here’s the Tweet Del Arroz is describing as an “attack”:
Yes, this is the kind of thing Jon Del Arroz sees as an attack on him, justifying his bullying and harassment of others. (You can see the full exchange, with the insulting “translation” Del Arroz was retweeting, here.)
Del Arroz also tried to drag companies Weimer works with into the feud. A strange tactic for Del Arroz to adopt, considering he talked elsewhere about being scared his enemies would come for his job…
And remember, each time Del Arroz does this, he’s encouraging his followers to jump in with additional insults and attacks.
ETA: Two months later, Del Arroz is still at it.
8. Laurel Amberdine. Amberdine is one of the moderators at Codex. Given Del Arroz’s story about how he was kicked out for his race and politics, it’s no surprise he targeted her, accusing her of bullying and being part of the Mean Girls club. This continued for more than a week. He continued to claim all he said in Codex was don’t attack other authors. (This claim was made in the same tweet that he attacked Amberdine and one other author.) Then he apparently discovered Amberdine works for Locus, because just like with Weimer, he dragged her employer into it, claiming Amberdine advocated blackballing minority authors (an obvious lie).
Even if you believe his account about what happened at Codex, voting to remove one individual from a group =/= blackballing minority authors. But it’s his final Tweet in that sequence, the “I’m available for interviews,” that suggests the real motivation. The goal of his lies and harassment is publicity.
Amberdine wasn’t talking about him or doing anything to engage. This was just another instance of Del Arroz distorting facts (his removal had nothing to do with race or his politics), then spending months pissing in his enemies’ Twitter streams in a way that encourages his followers to spread his unfounded accusations and join in the harassment.
9. Cat Rambo and SFWA. Rambo is the current president of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Del Arroz appears to have problems with both Rambo and the organization. I’m sure he would argue that it’s Rambo and SFWA who have the problem, and he just wants to be friends. Yet, just like he does with others, Del Arroz continues to randomly insult, attack, and harass Rambo online, while distorting or lying about what she’s said.
One of his themes is to accuse Rambo of defending pedophilia. (An accusation he’s used on Scalzi as well.) In the same Tweet, he says Rambo works overtime to purge people from SFWA for their politics. Not sure where that comes from – the only person banned from SFWA was Vox Day, and that happened before Rambo was president. As for the pedophilia thing? Del Arroz’s basis for that appears to be this Tweet:
I believe the 20-year-old corpse refers to Marion Zimmer Bradley, who protected a known child rapist and molested her own child. Nowhere does Rambo defend pedophilia. She does point out the hypocrisy of denouncing an abuser who died twenty years ago while ignoring or defending living abusers.
You could argue that Rambo’s Tweet is in poor taste. You can’t argue she’s defending pedophilia. I mean, unless you’re Jon Del Arroz, looking for another way to talk shit about people and groups you don’t like.
Again and again, he tags and attacks, starting another round of him and his followers trolling and harassing Cat Rambo. It looks like he did something similar via email, to the point that Rambo told him to stop emailing her. I don’t know how many times Rambo told him to stop, but she eventually had to say any additional emails would be forwarded to her attorney.
Related: Lou Berger asked Del Arroz for evidence of Rambo’s attacks against him, offering to take such evidence to the SFWA board. Del Arroz apparently failed to provide any. He did, however, jump into a related FB thread on Berger’s page to proclaim Berger a liar and a gaslighter. Others in the comments asked him for evidence about Rambo. He continued to call Berger a liar and accuse everyone of gaslighting him.
See also this post from 12/1/18: When Harassment Seems Harmless
January 2020: Two years later, JDA continues to cyberstalk Cat Rambo in order to continue his lies and harassment.
9b. SFWA Under Mary Robinette Kowal. In July 2019, Mary Robinette Kowal replaced Cat Rambo as president of SFWA. JDA immediately reapplied for membership. In his blog post, he manages to work in unsupported accusations of “flagrant Christaphobia” and claimed that conservative Christian authors were treated as “3/5ths of a professional author” before wrapping it up with a plug to buy his book.
Spoiler: He was rejected again. He likened his banning from SFWA to the ideology of white supremacy behind recent mass shootings, because of course he did. He also managed another attempted swipe at John Scalzi: “Most of the people who seethe at me and harass me within SFWA are angry, old white women—such as Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and John Scalzi…”
10. Shaun Duke. From what I can tell, Duke came to Del Arroz’s attention after Del Arroz posted the Happy Frogs slate for the Nebula awards. We had several years of ugliness and nastiness over slates in SF/F. Duke expressed the frustration and fatigue many of us felt at the idea of yet another round of award-slating bullshit. Basically, Duke’s message was to nominate what you love and don’t be an ass.
11. Setsu Uzume. Uzume is one of numerous friends Del Arroz has lost over the past year or two. He’s posted close to fifty Tweets about them, things like, “When you question the Mean Girls of SF publishing, they gaslight you, call you troll, talk shit behind your back.” As he’s done with others, he tags Uzume in these random and unwanted Tweets. In other words, Del Arroz is literally talking shit about Uzume and calling them names while accusing them of… Well, you get the idea.
12. Monica Valentinelli. Valentinelli had been scheduled to appear as a guest of honor at Odyssey Con. When she discovered she’d be working with a known sexual harasser, she contacted the convention with her concerns. After receiving a dismissive response, she withdrew from the convention. Del Arroz misrepresented this as a guest of honor “flaking out” with no notice, and tried to turn it into publicity and promotion for himself and his friends. He dismissed concerns as virtue signaling. Despite other claims from Del Arroz, it’s pretty clear he’s less concerned about fighting sexual harassment than he is about attention and publicity.
- JDA was still attacking Valentinelli as of June 2018, accusing her of being “miserably mentally ill.”
13. Other Miscellany. I’d intended to be done with this, but it looks like I need a section for updates. I’m not going to try to keep up with everything, but some stuff needs to have a light shone on it.
- JDA tags the Secret Service because Chuck Wendig…posted about someone else ranting about Donald Trump.
- Multiple people pointed out that Del Arroz was completely misreading Wendig’s post, but he just doubled down.
- JDA was apparently booted from the 2017 Hugo Award Livestream chat. I haven’t found a transcript of his comments on the livestream, so I can’t say what specifically he posted that led to this. (Note: Worldcon is run by a different group each year. The people who made this decision were not, to my knowledge, the same people who banned JDA from the 2018 Worldcon.)
- Apparently, JDA is now claiming I manipulated the screenshots to attack an author I’d never interacted with. A simple Google search should pull up any he hasn’t deleted. As for never interacting with him before this post of January 14? Gosh, if only someone had a time-stamped screenshot showing this to be yet another lie… (A weird and pointless lie, at that.)
- In April, one of JDA’s fans showed up at a John Scalzi event carrying one of Scalzi’s books…inscribed and signed by Del Arroz. The inscription: “Why would you call me a ‘2nd rate wannabe,’ when I would never call you an ‘over the hill hack’?” (If anyone has a link to where Scalzi actually called JDA this, please let me know. As far as I can tell, this is another example of JDA making stuff up. Happy to update if I’m wrong.) Anyway, the fan made a video of the encounter, which JDA used for a blog post to rant about Scalzi some more.
- When considering how JDA helped set up this encounter and used the resulting video to attack Scalzi, it’s worth keeping in mind JDA’s earlier plan to wear a bodycam and film things at Worldcon, particularly in the SFWA suite.
- I don’t even know what to say about this one, but it appears that in June 2018, JDA bought 5000 Twitter followers?
- In July 2018, Crossed Genres posted a call for submissions for a microanthology on Resisting Fascism. JDA did his trolling routine, drawing his followers into the harassment, and accusing Crossed Genres of being racist when they blocked him. He then started going after the editor of Crossed Genres on their personal Twitter handle. Same old, same old.
- July 2018 – JDA was briefly the #1 bestseller in the “Teen and Young Adult Steampunk
Ebook” Amazon subcategory, and began promoting himself as a bestselling author. Teresa Nielsen Hayden pointed out that he was not, in fact, a “bestseller” by any definition used by booksellers and readers. This led to some back-and-forth that included JDA accusing Hayden of lying about his bestseller status (she wasn’t), after which JDA began blogging about how Tor Books was afraid of him and trying to shut him down. More of the same. Lying about what people are saying about him, trying to get others in trouble with their employer, etc. But he assures people that, unlike Teresa Nielsen Hayden, he’s moved on. Which is apparently why he wrote two separate blog posts about Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Tor Books…
- March 2019 – An attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand leaves at least 49 dead. The gunman’s livestream of the massacre includes him telling people, “Subscribe to PewDiePie.” Hours later, Jon Del Arroz posts the following to Twitter:I imagine JDA would say he’s not endorsing a white supremacist’s mass murderer; he’s just trying to support PewDiePie. But if your reaction to a horrific mass murder is to knowingly post a shout-out referencing the murderer’s livestream? I really don’t care how you try to justify that shit.
- April 2019 – JDA continues his trolling of SFWA, this time by trying to sign up for the Nebula Conference as a “Thot Patrol Auditor,” then posting about it on Twitter for his followers.
- August 2019 – JDA protests he was offering Camestros Fellapton an olive branch, while calling him “Cameltoe.”
14. Suing WorldCon. I’ve moved the links/updates on JDA’s lawsuit against WorldCon to their own section here.
- 2/19/2018: Per author A. Merc Rustad, Del Arroz has begun asking people for money so he can sue WorldCon, comparing his struggle to that of LGBT people seeking marriage equality. As is his pattern, he paints himself as the victim, and distorts or outright lies about events. (For example, he claims he’s suffered “having my young children harassed on the internet through people trying to harass me into silence.” This appears to refer to his made-up claim that someone doxxed his children, as discussed above.)He also says, “Most of you know me from conventions, and also know that I’m a fun person to be around, who’s never caused a problem or even been accused of such.” This is another blatant lie. He might be fun to be around in certain circumstances, but for him to claim he’s never caused a problem? Never even been accused of causing a problem? That level of dishonesty would be laughable, if he wasn’t also hurting good people in the process.
- 4/17/2018: Del Arroz has filed suit against Worldcon.
- 8/16/2018: Despite being banned from Worldcon — and in the middle of a lawsuit against the con — Del Arroz showed up with camera rolling and tried to get in. The fact that he’s continuing his faux-victim performance is unsurprising, but there’s another layer here. This is a man who can’t accept being told no. Worldcon said he wasn’t wanted there. He showed up anyway, and is basically stalking the con. I wrote earlier this year about men being unable to handle being told no. JDA is a prime example.
- 2/21/2019: Per File770, Judge Mark Pierce has dismissed four of the five causes of action in JDA’s suit against WorldCon. The fifth cause is defamation, which remains before the court. Of potential interest:
- Declaration of Jon Del Arroz in Support of Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ SLAPP Motion
- In which JDA repeats his unsubstantiated claims that members of SFWA doxxed his children and sent unsolicited packages to his home…
- …and that SFWA President Cat Rambo “wanted to harm” him…
- …and concludes by emphasizing that he is “not an established writer.”
- Law and Motion Tentative Rulings
- “Defendant’s demurrer to the First cause of action, violation of Civil Code §51 (the Unruh Civil Rights Act) on the ground that it fails to state sufficient facts is SUSTAINED. The first cause of action alleges that Defendants violated the Unruh Act by discriminating against Plaintiff based on “his political affiliation and political beliefs.” … Plaintiff has failed to identify any published California decision expressly stating that “political affiliation” is a protected classification for purposes of the Unruh Act and the Court is unaware of any.”
- “Defendant’s demurrer to the Second cause of action, violation of Civil Code § 51.5, on the ground that it fails to state sufficient facts is SUSTAINED… As with the first cause of action, this cause of action alleges that Defendant violated §51.5 by refusing to sell Plaintiff “an attending membership because of his political affiliation and political beliefs.” … The claim fails as a matter of law because, as explained above, “political affiliation” is not a “characteristic listed or defined in subdivision (b) or (e) of Section 51.””
- “Defendant’s demurrer to the Third cause of action, violation of Civ. Code §51.7 (the Bane Civil Rights Act), on the ground that it fails to state sufficient facts is SUSTAINED… Plaintiff’s third cause of action is expressly based on a single “threat,” the January 2, 2018 email from Lori Buschbaum (allegedly acting as Defendant’s “Incipient Response Team area head”), and in particular that portion of the email stating that “If you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed.” … The Court concludes that a reasonable person would not have perceived the Jan. 2, 2018 email from Lori Buschbaum as a threat of violence.”
- “Defendant’s demurrer to the Fourth cause of action, violation of Civ. Code §52.1 (the Ralph Civil Rights Act), on the ground that it fails to state sufficient facts is SUSTAINED… As with the third cause of action as pled this claim is expressly based on a single communication—the January 2, 2018 email, and specifically that portion of the email stating that “[i]f you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed.” Under no circumstances could this be objectively construed as a threat of violence against a specific person (Plaintiff) made by a person (Lori Buschbaum) with the apparent ability to carry out such a threat.”
- “Defendant’s special motion to strike the fifth cause of action for defamation is DENIED for failure to meet the initial burden to establish that Plaintiff’s defamation claim is based on its protected activity… Defendant has failed to establish that its statement that Plaintiff had been barred from the convention because of “racist” and “bullying” behavior (and this is the only reasonable interpretation of Defendant’s statement) concerned a matter of public interest.”
- Declaration of Jon Del Arroz in Support of Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ SLAPP Motion
- 4/24/19: File770 reports that “Jon Del Arroz’ attorney Peter Sean Bradley filed a request with the Santa Clara County Superior Court to dismiss 18 of the 19 named defendants from his lawsuit against Worldcon 76. That will leave only San Francisco Science Fiction Convention Inc. still before the court.”
There’s a lot more out there. This isn’t close to a complete list of people Del Arroz has targeted. But hopefully it’s enough to provide context when people talk about his history of harassing and trolling others.
The standard Del Arroz refrain is that the SF/F establishment is out to get him because of his race and/or politics. I’m sure someone out there has attacked him for those particular reasons. But that’s not why he got himself kicked out of Codex. It’s not why he wasn’t invited to be a panelist at BayCon. It’s not why Worldcon revoked his membership. It’s not why people dismiss him as an asshole and block him.
I’m not saying Del Arroz is pure evil, or incapable of niceness. I know some people have had nothing but great experiences with him. One person I have a fair amount of respect for talked about how Del Arroz picked him up when he was stranded in the rain, and took him the rest of the way to a convention. That’s a cool thing to do. I’ve seen Del Arroz shut down one of his followers who suggested doxxing SJWs. Sure, not doxxing is a bare minimum of decency, but good on him for taking that stand.
But the fact that someone is nice to you doesn’t mean they’re not abusive to someone else.
Del Arroz frequently relies on the “But they started it!” defense. Someone else called him a name. Someone else got him blackballed. Someone else was passive-aggressively criticizing him — they didn’t name him, but he knows it was him. (In some cases, he’s probably right. In others…not so much.) But as we saw in his feud with Cat Rambo, if you try to find out what Del Arroz’s enemies actually did to start it, you generally discover…nothing.
Alternately, you find a pattern like this:
- JDA: Harasses and trolls someone online for weeks or months.
- Observer: Christ, what an asshole.
- JDA: Did you see that? Another SJW out to get me! Why is this person I’ve never even met talking shit about me?
- JDA: Starts harassing and trolling Observer…
Jon Del Arroz is responsible for his own choices and behaviors. He chooses to ignore people’s boundaries, and takes blocking and “Please stop” as a sign to double-down on his harassment. He chooses to incite others to join in his trolling. He chooses not to be accountable for his own actions, blaming anyone but himself for his ongoing harassment against “SJWs” or “Mean Girls” or whoever.
And that — not his politics or race or gender or anything else — is why so many people want nothing to do with him.
Postscript: I know this is going to blow up on me. Based on the history, I expect to be accused of hating on Jon Del Arroz for his politics or his race. I expect him to claim he’s been nothing but nice to me. (It’s true he hasn’t targeted me the way he has others…yet.) He said in a recent conversation that he’s always honest, so I’m sure he’ll take issue with me pointing out how often his accusations depart from reality.
ETA: On the “nothing but nice” bit, I was close. He did the “I just want to be friends” routine instead.
I expect many indignant tweets in which he tags me and calls me an intolerant bigot who hates minority authors. I expect his followers to join in. (I also expect my mute and block finger to get quite a workout.)
I expect Del Arroz to double down on his “they started it” defense.
That’s up to him. For myself, I’m not interested in name-calling comments, random trolls, or “But he’s always been nice to me.” If there are factual errors in my post, I welcome evidence-based corrections. I’ve tweaked the comment screening settings and will be moderating comments as needed, because I know this post is going to eat up a lot of time and energy, and I have a limited supply of both.
And Jon? I don’t hate you. I just hate the way you bully and harass people, and how you encourage others to do the same.