Wednesday, July 01, 2015

In love

For the first time in about 14 years, I'm in love. Pretty hard and, for the first time, with someone I haven't even met in person. I don't want to give too much detail lest she see this and possibly be weirded, so suffice to say I've fallen for someone on account of an ever deepening admiration for her strong will, sharp intellect, and compassionate heart.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

We should be skeptical of arguments that play up the physical danger women are in, as fear is another mechanism of oppression. It is often the perceived threat of physical assault, more than the actual likelihood of it, that keeps women at home. -- Jean Yang, Computer Science PhD student at MIT, on Quora.com

Friday, May 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

[T]he prison, the reformatory, and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it. -- National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, Task Force Report on Corrections, 1973, quoted in Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fan Organizations Must Take a Stand Against ExpoGate!

I will be introducing a motion at the upcoming meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (Friday, 8pm at International House, 37th and Chestnut Streets) to condemn the expulsion and banning of Alison Tieman and the Honey Badger Brigade from Calgary Comics Expo and pledge to boycott that event's "Super Sponsors." Here's some additional information on the case (about which I wrote previously), from an article on SuperNerdLand:

Competing Statements 

Here is the only official statement from Calgary Expo:

"The Calgary Expo is a positive and safe event for everyone. We have reason to believe that the Exhibitor in question does not fall in line with this mandate...so we have politely requested that they not participate in our show or future shows. We continue to build a positive and fun event for everyone.

"We have evidence that the group in question was actively disregarding our mandate. We support free speech -- and continue to promote equality across the board. Their removal from the show had zero to do with gender, and everything to do with our show policies, which apply to all exhibitors and attendees.

"We are very proud of our initiative for #ExpoEquality and we wish everyone a happy, safe and fun Expo."

For contrast we have the Honey Badgers Statement in full: 

"Early this morning, Fan Expo Canada banned Honey Badger Brigade (HBB) from the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo (CalEx). Security staff approached the HBB booth, ordered us to leave, and refused to state the reason why unless Alison Tieman agreed to speak to them away from the other members of the group, without recording. They informed Alison that they had received complaints on social media, including 25 allegations of harassment. No evidence was presented, no request was made for information from HBB, and no specific incident was cited until further questions were asked of security. Upon further questioning, security mentioned the Women in Comics panel discussion from the previous day, where Alison was given permission to speak. Alison spoke briefly in relation to a topic brought up by the panelists. Accusers, however, claimed that Alison derailed the conversation. Alison and myself were in attendance, and you can listen to Alison’s statement in the panel here on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymkIiGRvtBg) You can hear Alison, myself and indeed the entire panel in the full discussion record (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyBfJuvopPg). As you will hear, there was no harassment. Expo staff and mob rule, in their crusade for ending harassment against women, harassed the Honey Badgers despite having no evidence of any policy violation.

"To those unfamiliar, HBB was founded by three women and has a highly diverse staff of volunteers, creators and lovers of free expression. Alison Tieman, a woman who spent 7 years writing graphic novels and fighting censorship, was censored by other women for speaking her mind, and advocating equal compassion for men, and true strength in character for women. We ask all involved to question what it means to provide an open forum, and to examine how CalEx treats it’s patrons and exhibitors. Do they provide a safe space from harassment, or a safe space for the people who want to define what harassment means? Please send press inquiries to xenospora@gmail.com for more information as the story develops. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter."

Nowhere in the Calgary statement does it cite a rule The Honey Badgers broke, or even mentions a specific case of wrongdoing they are accused of. This is a very weak and generalized statement and does not, in my mind, hold up as the basis for such harsh and quick action. Someone on Twitter summed it up best: “If that is going to stand as your official explanation, it is completely inadequate – and not even coherent.”

I hope people will take the time to look into the facts of this matter for themselves -- and certainly not rely on the account in The Mary Sue, which has financial ties to the Expo.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Quote of the Day

Pascal's Bookie is perhaps the best moniker ever. -- Keith Lowell Jensen

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Support Alison Tieman, and So Should You!

 

For anyone who hasn't heard, there was an outrageous incident of political censorship at the Calgary Comics Expo. For no other reason than a politically divergent opinion expressed by artist Alison Tieman, founder of women's creative collective the Honey Badger Brigade, the whole group was thrown out without warning (in violation of the con's own contractual policy) as they were about to set up for the second day. Worse, Tieman herself has been banned for life from this con and all others run by the same organization -- a big deal, as 100,000 attend these things. It's essentially a death sentence on her comics career.

To add insult to injury, after they were expelled and had announced plans for an informal gathering of fans in a nearby park, police were actually sicced on them on totally spurious charges of possible criminal activity. The police themselves concluded there was no cause for action. Here's raw footage of the encounter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqv78wABm00&feature=youtu.be. Honey Badger Rachel Edwards reports that the officer said the complaint had come from the CalEx organizers.

I think this incident is particularly telling, because by indulging in this extra bit of gratuitous harassment, CalEx tipped their hand. If they were willing to make a false report to police just to badger the Badgers a little more, why should we believe they didn't manufacture the reports of "harassment of women at the convention" that served as the pretext for expelling them?

To be sure I was getting both sides of the story, I used DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you (and therefore won't tailor results to biases indicated by your history) for the terms "Alison Tieman" + "Calgary." I found the great majority of results were pro-HBB, and the few that weren't were based on demonstrably false information and often on an ad hominem level, repeatedly stooping to what I can only call slut-shaming.

Here's Tieman's own heart-rending account of her brutal experience: Banned for not Damselling

The full recording of the panel at which she made the offending remarks on which the spurious charge of "harassment" was based (warning: poor sound quality): http://www.avoiceformen.com/allnews/full-audio-of-alleged-harassing-of-women-at-calgary-comic-expo/

An overview of the whole affair: http://www.examiner.com/article/calgary-expo-censors-the-honey-badger-brigade-s-anti-censorship-message

Video messages are being compiled from Tieman's friends and supporters. Here's the compilation as it currently stands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI0h-2pCC3I. (In support of collator SkepTorr's comment on the media misrepresentation of GamerGate, I recommend this compilation of messages from GamerGaters whose existence contradicts the media stereotype: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzwGIHUCtjU.)

Supporters of free expression are urged to send messages of protest to the organizers at info@calgaryexpo.cominfo@calgaryexpo.com.
"Super sponsors" can be contacted at sponsors@calgaryexpo.comsponsors@calgaryexpo.com (you can also find a complete listing of them at the con website).

The artists don't want other exhibitors to be hurt by any kind of boycott against the con, but encourage pressure on the sponsors.

I've done all of the above. I've also contacted the NPR program On the Media, which has covered issues in geek culture in the past, urging them to do a story on this. The web contact form is http://www.onthemedia.org/emailform/contact-otm/

You can check out Tieman's webcomic Xenospora on her website: http://www.xenospora.comhttp://www.xenospora.com. I plan to order a bound, printed copy of Volume I as soon as my tax refund comes in. Meanwhile, I've made copies of the comic's logo and started putting them up all over downtown Philadelphia.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My friend Rey will be competing in the Special Olympics Spring Games this Saturday, 18 April, at William Penn Charter School, 3000 West School House Lane. I'm not sure when the games start but athletes have to check in by 8:30am.