Somebody Should Have Done Something

Once upon a time (2006) in a land far far away (Chattanooga, TN) there was our hero, preparing to slay dragons and drink merrily with his comrades. We know he was our hero because, well, I’m narrating this and I say that he was our hero. Don’t like it? I’ll call you a wah-mbulance and I’ll use your tears to flavor my soup. He’s our hero, buttercup. Deal.

Anyways, where was I? Right. Chattanooga, Tennessee. Summer of ’06. It was a hot and humid evening, where the only respite from the overbearing heat was the body temperature rain which only seemed to fall at night. Our hero was drinking and carousing with friends when, in a fit of random mischief, he took a tumble and hurt himself badly. Fearing the worst, his compatriots sent him to the hospital to be examined. His heart filled with dread, he complied, and was poked and prodded for four hours before he was declared fit to return to the convention where he was (obviously) fighting for truth, justice and the Inebriated Beverage way. However, unbeknownst to our hero (okay, knownst, but our hero needed it, I swear), the villainous doctor pumped him full of an evil concoction which rendered his muscles weak and his mind blurred. Disoriented (but feeling a-ok), our hero finally managed to stumble into his bedroom sometime just before dawn. He was shocked by what he saw.

There, upon his bed, were a man and a women, sound asleep. Neither the man nor woman were our hero’s roommate for the weekend, or the other individual who was staying in the room with them. Our hero knew this man, and knew this woman, but… they were asleep on his bed. Confused, our hero stumbled down the hall with his allies and collapsed into their spare bed to sleep off the pain, all the while surrounded by nubile young women (true story, bro). When our hero arose from his slumber the following afternoon, he talked to the man and woman who had been occupying his bed and told them of his annoyance, but forgave them since word had gotten around that our hero would not be returning until the following day and the duo, who had been exhausted and in no shape to take their horseless carriage to their campground, had received (albeit in a roundabout way) permission from the hero’s roommate to stay. Our hero did not scream and rage, and he most definitely did not try to publicly shame them or harm them. Nor did he write an official letter of complaint to the convention because his personal space was invaded. He handled it, and the manner died a quiet death, banished to the murky annals of con lore and legend.

Many years later (like, 8), a new class of heroine arose from the depths of a forgotten land (Burlington, Massachusetts). This self-professed heroine was also at a convention, and was rooming with other people. However, when our self-professed heroine discovered that a mutual acquaintance had held a room party in her room without her permission (and using sorcery to unlock the door, apparently), she was deeply troubled. Our heroine was fortunate nothing was stolen, she thought. Our heroine stood up and felt shaken at the very thought that a group of people she did not know had ended up in her room. Why had the inviting individual not foreseen that she would be bothered by this? What sort of witchery had the individual used to convince people that an uninvited room party in someone else’s room was a good idea? Why hadn’t the individual known? Somebody must do something about this!

Sadly, somebody did. Using smear tactics and public ridicule (satire is wonderful, ain’t it?), our heroine began an effort to publicly destroy the individual who dared use sorcery to break into our heroine’s room, mind control her roommate and forced them to host a party and then leave. The Evil League of Evil publicly denounced these tactics, which obviously means that our heroine is the One True Heroine, because if publicly acknowledged evil is against it, then it must be Good. Many voices rose from the darkness of society to justify our heroine’s warrior-like effort to expose this charlatan of an evil enchantress.

Our story does not have a happy ending, for it is still being written to this day. We shall see what comes to pass…

In all seriousness, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes when you’re at a convention and you come back to people in your room. All you want to do is sleep and relax, and you feel a little bad about kicking them out. However… I’ve never had a group of people in my room who didn’t leave when asked. Usually a “Guys, I’m exhausted. Can you guys take it to another room?” gets the point across in a polite manner, and there are no hard feelings (except for that one bastard who drank too much and had gotten real damn comfy on your couch, but screw that guy) all around. There’s no problem the next day, and people are apologizing for keeping you up later than you wanted to. It’s called Con Culture, and it’s a wonderful thing.

But there is a key component to all this, and it’s communication. People do not usually read minds, and people at con (not the most social of critters known to man) are even worse at knowing what you’re thinking. Trust me, everyone will be okay with your choice if you tell them that you’re not cool with something. Sitting off to the side and staying quiet doesn’t do the trick. Staying silent about something and later slamming them publicly while voicing your distaste to the con committee weeks afterwards does nothing but engender negative feelings all around, because the first words out of someone’s mouth is invariably “I didn’t know. Why didn’t you say anything?”

And that’s a problem, because it’s far easier to write letters and bitch about things anonymously on the internet. It’s terrifying to stand up in public and be brave when surrounded by the “enemy”, so to speak. It’s too much for some people to state “No, this isn’t cool” in person. I understand this fear, because everyone suffers from it in various ways. Some feel a nagging little tickle right before they speak, others have an overwhelming urge to vomit and run away. You can toss around the “if only” afterwards, and blame others for your own lack of rules and fortitude to stand up (I don’t generally room with others now, and if I do, we know beforehand what is and what isn’t cool for our room, and it works out), but it never justifies publicly attacking them and defaming them, as a recent attendee of Readercon did.

For now, though, we all get to watch and wonder just what would have happened if she had said “This needs to end” during the event (or even “this can’t happen in our room” beforehand). Somebody should have done something.

…and now for our self-promotion. Jason Cordova writes. He writes a lot. He writes books. They are good. You should buy them all. His kitteh!s demand lambskin beds and kitteh! towers ten feet high so that they may jump upon his head whenever the whim strikes them. He is also the International Ambassador for the Kaiju Awareness Foundation. This means he gets eaten last. He lives in Virginia.

42 comments

  1. Went and read the second story. Interesting that when the accused showed up and apologized for the incident and then explained what happened, all commentary got shut down.

        1. “A room, that while on the party floor, was not ever intended to have a party in it.”

          That reminds me of the time that I entered a boxing ring and the other guy hit me. He just assumed that me climbing into the ring wearing trunks and gloves implied consent.

          The nerve of some people.

    1. Not just shut down. Shut down with “…thank you for your apology. I don’t wish to speak to you further right now. I hope you understand.”

      Talk about unable to function in the adult world.

  2. She sounds like a middle school girl, creating drama out of a slight miscommunication in an effort to get attention and hang out with the Cool Girls.

      1. I have been part of a packed-to-the-gills room, and before the con started ground rules concerning visitors were laid down.

        Everyone stuck to those rules and it was a pleasant time for all.

  3. Oh, my. . . and she didn’t have a mark on the door, a dot of a particular color indicating to all and few that this was a private “safe space”. . . how irresponsible of her !!

    It’s almost like she was treating something she paid for as HER PROPERTY, and we all know that Property is Theft. . . she’s being positively CAPITALIST!!

  4. I rent a suite and host Barfly Central during some cons. Sometimes the noise is too much and I have to either calm the group down, or retreat to quieter space.

    At one con (where I didn’t rent the suite, but those who did were already asleep and I was responsible for moderating the noise levels) I had to drop the hammer of doom on some folks who were too loud. On the other hand, there was a group of folks I personally did not know – who reacted quite maturely to a request to reduce volume – with whom I had a great, quieter, conversation with for the rest of the night. I see them at other cons and make sure they know where to find BFC.

    I had a person shout right next to my ear when I was on the border of having a panic attack from too much noise. I asked him to stop. He did.

    We quieted the suite at DragonCon to start the Scotch Tasting. It’s an activity with much discussion, Q&A and trivia – led by two enthusiasts who like to share their knowledge. It doesn’t compete well with multiple simultaneous conversations. One individual ignored us and wouldn’t stop. I singled him out – he asked why he should comply – I replied that it was my suite. He shut up. Granted, he was a bit sullen and eventually left, but we were adults.

    Special snowflakes need to learn that the world doesn’t care, They also need to grow up.

  5. That said, it looks like there was a big ol’ mess of not-communicate-y-ness going on, and there should have been balls (no balls. or the female equivalent thereof) enough to take care of things face-to-face. And I get why that doesn’t often happen, especially at cons. We Odds are, as a species, bad at civilized confrontation. We don’t like it, we don’t know how to do it well, and we’ve raised ourselves on a steady diet of people who solve their problems with one form or another of violence. A nice, friendly duel makes more sense than talking to the concom during the con, I expect. All of which are great reasons for understanding what happened, and none of which excuses it. Your room is your space. Defend your space. Good fences (or locks) make good neighbors.

    Also, clear firing lanes make good neighbors. And high-powered rifles. Maybe a wing or two of gryphon cavalry. I’m just sayin’…

      1. Cinderblocks sounds fun but I’ve always preferred maces toe-to-toe where you can see their eyes glaze over 😉

  6. It’s amusing to me how not only does that individual feel justified to introduce this into the public, but there are people actually defending her for it.

    She spent a hell of a lot more time writing that post than it would have taken to just send a message that said, “WTF?”

    I guess she sees this as another example of speaking truth to power?

    1. Well, Tom, you see actually taking up your concerns with the — ahem — concerned party is so very gauche. Why, they might have a perception of the precipitating event and the results that differed from yours! There might be circumstances that actually bolstered their understanding of things! Hell, it’s entirely possible that dealing with the offending party face to face would force you to accept that they’re actually another flocking human being!

      No-no. Much better to wait months and then post it to your blog for added victim points. That way, if they show up to handle the business like a rational adult you can pull the full passive-agg and shut down the comments, thus demonstrating that you (dammit!) are in control.

      This way, they remain a character (bad guy, obs) in your story and you retain your agency.

      See?

      1. Of course! How could I be so silly!

        I mean, if she actually had taken it up with the person she might have gotten it solved quickly and efficiently and negate one’s ability to be the innocent victim.

          1. Yeah, sorry about that. I forgot that it wasn’t actually about solving a problem, but about getting victim status points.

            You would think I’d learn.

            1. If the mindset ever becomes natural to you, I’ll stage an intervention, never you fret.

              1. Kind of a quick one, but I thought you might enjoy this…

                The RTC* stomped in, raised a copy of Atlas Shrugged above their heads, and looked around. Then he slipped that book into his pocket and got out The Moon is A Harsh Mistress. When he lifted that, smiles broke out.

                “So, what’s up, Doc?” He growled.

                The huddled figure on the bunk bed looked up at him, shivered, and blinked back tears. “I… I can’t do it. If we fix this, those poor victims of social injustice will be happy, and they… No one will believe they are oppressed anymore!”

                The RTC slapped his motorcycle jacket. “Is this what you need an intervention for?”

                He sat down on the bunk. “All right. See, you are making a simple mistake of thinking that victim points now are better than victim points in the past. But tell me, have you ever heard someone complaining that they have to ride the bus to school now? What happens when someone does that?”

                The young man grinned. “Someone always tells them about how they had to walk through the snow, uphill, both ways.”

                The RTC smiled. “That’s right. Why, past victim points always are better than present victim points. For one thing, you can exaggerate the past as much as you like, without anyone being able to complain. For another, while someone might fix a problem now, and remove your current and future victim points, they can’t go back and fix the past. So you will always be a victim of your past, unless you decide to let go of it, but that’s an advanced lesson.”

                The RTC stood up. “Got it? Go, fix it, and watch. Everyone will be so much happier to be able to claim they were victims in the past, their oppression so much, but you… Shining hero of the revolution that you are, you fixed it, and now they can sing your praises forever for freeing them.”

                The RTC stepped out, gesturing for the older member of the group to come with him. In the hall, he shook his head. “That was kind of a quick fix, but I think it will keep him going for a while. Just watch out, those semantic slurs can be hard to shake off.”

                The other man nodded. “We’ll keep an eye on him. Thank you for coming so promptly.”

                “It’s all in support of sanity, truth, and the American way, you know.”

                The RTC jumped on his broomstick and flew off, looking forward to his next challenge, confident that there was a way to win.

                * RTC stands for Rational Thinking Counselor, recommended auxiliary for any troop likely to be faced with SWJ claims and other illogic.

  7. Appropriate, considering how often the Nasty Lady has do-not-linked us, that we have now done the same to her.

  8. Burn the witch!!!!

    How can you claim to be a victimy victim, if you are expected to stand up for yourself. This idea you’re puting forward is balderdash and poppycock.

    Sheesh, next you’ll be asking people to take personal responsibility for where we found ourselves in life or something.

    This is just crazy talk. Everyone on the count of three put your fingers in your ears and hum loudly while repeating, “I am special. Nothing is my fualt. I do not have to do anything for myself and it’s others people’s job to do for me!”

  9. Jason, I’m conflicted about this. 1) I was on Con Security at InConJunction 1,2 and 3. I was also assisting for many years after that. Parties in “non party rooms” are a _big_ no-no. 2) The liability and “loss” concerns are *very* on target. Con security is often a “lawsuit waiting to happen.” 3) I attended Dragon Con in 1998 or ’99, and wrote a scathing review of certain things, on line. I got an “apology from the organizer,” and dropped the subject after that. NO, I will not say what I complained about. 4) (this is the biggy), the “author was 1,000,000% wrong in naming the person involved (instigator).” Had it been stated a “this happened, because an *unnamed person* did this, and these are my concerns,” it would be different.
    Con’s are for “friends” to get together, but we tend to “forget” that not everyone is going to behave in a “civilized, adult manner.” A certain unnamed hotel, and their subsequent behavior, are why Louisville will *never* host a World Con/NasFic.(Again, NO I will not give any details. Except to say a “friend” was put though hell by the hotel.) The ConCom of that convention is lucky that _they_ didn’t get sued as well.
    Because a “Con” is a “members only” event, there should be policies, both stated, and _enforced_, preventing such behavior as was complained about. Granted, “civilized, adults” don’t “move parties into rooms of those *not* set up as ‘party rooms.'” Posting/notifying of a “party by X in room NN,” is sufficient. I’ve done it in the past, and I was paying for the room. It was a “private party,” informally inviting people to “come by and sample ‘real DPA.'” I may even do it again someday. 🙂
    Again, *both* parties were in the wrong. The instigator of the “party” should be warned of “another incident like this, and you will be removed from the convention(s).” The author of the post, should be reminded that further incidents of refusing to notify ConCom/Security of such problems, in a timely manner, will result in blacklisting. (This is to protect the convention, and the volunteers putting them on.) It shouldn’t matter if the “GoH” is the problem. (Yes, I know it does, but it shouldn’t.)

  10. Did this chick never go to college?

    I recall negotiating this sort of situation as one of the major courses of study.

    1. You make an interesting point.

      There has been much lately to the effect that a university cannot be a safe environment for women inside the confines of a free society.

      Ban tertiary education.

      Most of academia isn’t all that critical.

      The professions can be supplied by apprenticeship.

      The only thing really difficult would be the service academies, and those worked fine all male for years.

  11. “He is also the International Ambassador for the Kaiju Awareness Foundation. This means he gets eaten last.” Izzat what it means? My copy of the “In Case of Kaiju Attack” handbook says, “When the Kaiju attack, send the ambassadors out first. This will give the rest of you time to escape while they enjoy their appetizers.” Maybe it’s a misprint?

  12. And it wasn’t a ‘real’ party; it was a make-up party.
    I’m hoping this was about creating Klingons, and not about lip gloss and eye shadow.

  13. Well, obviously you cannot always trust your fellow fans, but this person is so convinced that her fellow fans are thieves and drunks that I wonder why she goes to cons at all.

    Also her roomies are spineless. I have never known a fan to have a hard time giving anybody the heaveho from a hotel room, and I have never known anyone to resist said heaveho.

    1. Also the roomies did not exploit the partygoers to clean up. Usually trained party attendees clean up.

      But yes, of course this is not good, but why stew over it and then make a big deal?

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