"I have judged his behavior for myself, and I do not feel safe"
April 12, 2017 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Odyssey Con, a Wisconsin science fiction and fantasy convention, became the center of controversy yesterday after Guest of Honor Monica Valentinelli withdrew from the convention when she was assigned serial harasser Jim Frenkel (Frenkel previously on the Blue) as her guest liaison. Fellow guest Patrick S. Tomlinson canceled his appearance in solidarity, and authors Catherine Lundoff and Melissa F. Olson revealed that they had refused invitations after finding out Frenkel was on the convention committee. However, rather than taking the concerns of their guests seriously, Odyssey Con's initial response was to defend Frankel as an upstanding member of the convention committee and post private e-mail correspondence with Valentinelli on Facebook without her consent in the name of "transparency."

The e-mails included one from program organizer Gregory Rihn (who later expressed regret for his "stupid response") claiming that the accusations of harassment were "exaggerated" and that there were concerns it would "reflect badly on" Frenkel. Unsurprisingly, many of Odyssey Con's committee members have enjoyed friendly personal and profession relationships with Frenkel for many year. These relationships persisted despite Frenkel being banned from WisCon, another SFF convention, at first temporarily and then permanently. Among them is the president of Odyssey Con's board, Richard S. Russell posted (and later deleted) to Facebook an official response claiming that
Odyssey Con is now, always has been, and always will be, open and welcoming to all. We do not allow anyone, not even a guest of honor, to dictate that someone else must be excluded from it.
Russell was himself a co-founder and longtime important committee member at WisCon until 2014, when he was removed for not only continuing to defend Frenkel, but strong opposition to WisCon's People of Color Safe Space policy, which he saw as the work of "self-appointed commissars of political correctness."

More on Odyssey Con and Frenkel from Mary Robinette Kowal‏, Jim C. Hines, Kelly McCullough, and Sigrid Ellis.
posted by zombieflanders (100 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
File 770, the fandom news site has its own breakdown of the events.
posted by happyroach at 6:52 AM on April 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


This has gone past "leaky stair" harassment (a predator who everyone in the community kind of knows about, but doesn't do anything except privately warn newbies) and into "the house is on fire but the owners are weirdly proud of it."
posted by muddgirl at 6:58 AM on April 12, 2017 [43 favorites]


Missing Stair, not "leaky stair."

But also hoooooly shit, how is one organizer worth losing so many presenters? Like, even if you think the guy's innocent, can't you just say, "hey, you've got some significant baggage; we need you to sort that out before we make you a representative of our convention"?
posted by explosion at 7:02 AM on April 12, 2017 [26 favorites]


Why not just change the name to SkeevyDudeCon and be done with it?
posted by emjaybee at 7:11 AM on April 12, 2017 [10 favorites]



Odyssey Con is now, always has been, and always will be, open and welcoming to all.


Open up your ears, because I seem to be hearing several people saying that they don't find your Con welcoming. That should maybe be worth listening too.
posted by nubs at 7:23 AM on April 12, 2017 [37 favorites]


Holy crap. I saw some of this on Facebook yesterday but had no idea the extent of it. Odyssey Con's behavior has gone beyond "stop digging" territory into "you've tunneled most of the way through the earth, why stop now?"
posted by the turtle's teeth at 7:25 AM on April 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Odyssey Con's behavior has gone beyond "stop digging" territory into "you've tunneled most of the way through the earth, why stop now?"

Maybe they're all leaky?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:30 AM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's odd how many fan conventions have these mismanagement and predator issues. This news is upsetting yet completely familiar.
posted by halonine at 7:43 AM on April 12, 2017 [10 favorites]


I read about this yesterday, but the offender wasn't named. When I saw that it was Frenkel, I literally lost control of my limbs with anger. Making him the guest liaison is beyond not caring about harassment. It is actively wanting people to be harassed.
posted by Etrigan at 7:45 AM on April 12, 2017 [47 favorites]


Christ. K. Tempest Bradford has some further details on the link to the WisCon business here. So OdysseyCon not only had two well-known serial harassers on their committee, they thought it would be a good idea for the one who was infamously banned from another convention to make the response? They're in deep. Beardy old male nerd culture isn't worth saving.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2017 [27 favorites]


The bit that realllly gets me is the whole, "We don't let ANYONE dictate who comes to our Con! Not even Guests of Honor!" Monica didn't try to dictate anything to anyone. She said that she could not be GOH at a con where she Frenkel was on her panels and possibly her guest liaison. It's called setting a boundary.
posted by muddgirl at 7:48 AM on April 12, 2017 [44 favorites]


I can't tell if this is Geek Social Fallacy #1, bros before hos, or some terrible combination of the two.

I'm guessing Odyssey Con doesn't have everyone sign a no-harassment policy.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:48 AM on April 12, 2017 [10 favorites]


Odyssey Con is now, always has been, and always will be, open and welcoming to all. We do not allow anyone, not even a guest of honor, to dictate that someone else must be excluded from it.

What I love about this statement is that it would be masterful if it was deliberate satire. It stacks untruth on untruth; it's a brick in the wall of its own untruth.

It's already been pointed out that, obviously, they are not being welcoming to their guest of honor by assigning her a serial harasser as a liaison and and then portraying her as some kind of dictatorial harpy when she objects.

But there is also the fact that it's a blatantly false statement in another way: it just can't be true that they allow everyone to attend their con, unless they really are that horribly mismanaged. I imagine, for example, that they would eject someone who was stealing items from attendees' bags, who kept shouting drunken obscenities during panels, who stabbed someone in the foyer.

They've just made it clear where they draw the line here: sexual harassment isn't really that bad (if you're our buddy).
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:48 AM on April 12, 2017 [62 favorites]


Odyssey Con is now, always has been, and always will be, open and welcoming to all. We do not allow anyone, not even a guest of honor, to dictate that someone else must be excluded from it.

What I love about this statement is that it would be masterful if it was deliberate satire. It stacks untruth on untruth; it's a brick in the wall of its own untruth.


Yeah, holy shit.

"I don't feel safe or comfortable that you've paired me with $GUYBANNEDFROMMULTIPLEOTHERCONS; I'm not coming"
"How dare you dictate who we exclude!"

wut?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2017 [24 favorites]


I can't tell if this is Geek Social Fallacy #1, bros before hos, or some terrible combination of the two.

I'm guessing Odyssey Con doesn't have everyone sign a no-harassment policy.


I think it's more "he seemed like a nice guy to me, that means he can't have been that abusive to anyone else", which is not just a geek circles thing.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:57 AM on April 12, 2017 [11 favorites]


Also, I bet dollars to donuts that OdysseyCon HAS received complaints about Frenkel in the past, but just like at WisCon prior to 2013, those complaints were "informal complaints" or "didn't get transmitted to the safety committee" or "record were lost" etc. etc. etc.

This isn't something unique to cons. How much of this read exactly like the reportage on Uber's terrible mismanagement of harassment complaints? Including the line, "This is the first time I've heard of it!" (if you ignore and minimize all the other times I've heard of it)
posted by muddgirl at 7:59 AM on April 12, 2017 [37 favorites]


I guess having all of the serial abusers at one con means it's a little easier to avoid anything with any of those people involved.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


So once again, a woman reports that she has had personal experience being harassed, and is then told she should give him a chance to prove he's actually a nice guy? Or in this case, multiple women have said he's a serial harasser and they refuse to be around him, and the response (by a bunch of his male buddies) is something to the effect of, 'all those feminazis are being mean to him".....

This is the same reason I gave up going to cons way back in the '70s. Unfortunately, nothing has changed, has it?
posted by easily confused at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2017 [22 favorites]


Apparently, they finally listened: (This is from Jim C. Hines' blog, I can't see Facebook at work):

“Frenkel is no longer a member of our ConCom in any capacity, he has no position of authority in the convention proper, and he is not a panelist or lecturer. He has the right to purchase a badge and attend the convention, but as of this writing, I do not know if he is planning to do that.”

Sometimes people end up doing the right thing after every other avenue has been exhausted.
posted by Hactar at 8:04 AM on April 12, 2017 [17 favorites]


Tangentially related is Rocky Mountain Fur Con being infiltrated by the alt-right, plus protecting a sex offender -- another case of a con protecting harmful people under the guise of being "inclusive".
posted by Wossname at 8:09 AM on April 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


That one's being discussed a few FPPs over, Wossname.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:11 AM on April 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


The tendency of geeky organizations to keep known harassers and other bad actors around is a source of perpetual confusion and shame to me as a geek.

I keep hoping that the cause is a belief that the harassers are somehow super necessary or special, but I know that's not the case. Its almost certainly just plain old bigotry and misogyny. Women, the con organizers seem to be saying, can (with reluctance) be permitted into the con, but they must remember at all times that they are there on sufferance and only under protest. Women are clearly not welcome at the cons as evidenced by the fact that my fellow older male geeks actively seek out and recruit harassers to keep women feeling marginalized and unwelcome.
posted by sotonohito at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2017 [15 favorites]


Predators are charming. They volunteer. Volunteers can seem like the most precious commodity in fan communities.
posted by muddgirl at 8:16 AM on April 12, 2017 [38 favorites]


Danke, @zombieflanders.
posted by Wossname at 8:16 AM on April 12, 2017


But also hoooooly shit, how is one organizer worth losing so many presenters?

I think the problem is organizers who think "if we stop letting white men with clout in this community do whatever we want to whomever we want, what's even the point of having these events?"
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:19 AM on April 12, 2017 [31 favorites]


Their apology also invoked the "we're volunteers" reason for the communication choices they made. Which is totally missing the point.
posted by maryrobinette at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2017 [14 favorites]


It's also that they want their people to continue to have control so the event be what they want it to be. And if that's excluding people who aren't them, they're fine with it. But if women or PoC get involved, it'll become (in their mind) a SJW-fest.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:28 AM on April 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


This is the same reason I gave up going to cons way back in the '70s. Unfortunately, nothing has changed, has it?

How hard would it be to put together some form of membership group, accreditation, or standards committee (call it the SafeCon), that would make sure Cons abide by best practices in sexual harrassment policies? You could even have different levels of compliance.

If you could get some major authors (game developers, etc) sign on saying, "If you don't abide by SafeCon, we won't EVER come to your convention," soon there'd be some pressure to comply.

Then at least folks who don't know about the missing stair would have a better sense of which Cons were skeezy and worth avoiding.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2017 [22 favorites]


I can't tell if this is Geek Social Fallacy #1, bros before hos, or some terrible combination of the two.

No, it's worse. Let K. Tempest Bradford explain:
So we’ve got Greg Rihn, serial apologist for serial harassers and abusers, responding to a guest of honor in this manner. When said guest of honor responds to that by withdrawing from the con, Richard Russell, who has a history of abusive communications, signs his name to a statement that essentially says “Well she brought all this up awfully late! And also Frenkel has never harassed anyone at OddCon, so we have no grounds to ban him. Plus, we don’t let guests of honor dictate who can come to our safe space. Also, this is a safe space[7].”
This was a deliberate policy of (part of) the concom, to pay lipservice to anti-harassement measures, but actually to provide a safe space it seems for their harassing pals only. Nobody within fandom can't not know that Frenkel is ...problematic, so keeping him involved in your con is a deliberate statement that you don't care.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2017 [24 favorites]


Apparently, they finally listened...Sometimes people end up doing the right thing after every other avenue has been exhausted.

Richard S. Russell, who is well-known for harassing POC online and who is also a serial-abuse-(serial)-apologist is also still the president of the convention board. Serial-abuse-(serial)-apologist Gregory Rehn is not listed on the concom page but he claimed to be in charge of programming and there was no dispute about that.
posted by muddgirl at 8:33 AM on April 12, 2017 [11 favorites]


Women are clearly not welcome at the cons as evidenced by the fact that my fellow older male geeks actively seek out and recruit harassers to keep women feeling marginalized and unwelcome.

Eh, I don't think they actively seek them out and recruit them, I think they've all just been friends since the '70s (ranging from casual acquaintances to best buds) and that informal network is a lot more important to them than any "newcomers" to the field. The biggest problem is that most of the people who run cons today got involved in fandom when cons were just a way for the "nerd boys" and the "cool girls" to hang out and hook up, and many have never been able to make the transition to treating them as a professional space where appropriate boundaries apply. I think they treat everyone they haven't known for decades as an interloper. Unfortunately, this can also be true of some of the older women in the scene who were apparently OK with all the sexual harassment and assault and worse that went down back in the day, and will also come to the defense of their "friends" who are "well-meaning guys, really."

Which is definitely not a defense of this behavior in any way whatsoever. As a younger woman who began attending cons in 2008, I've certainly had my share of unpleasant experiences. But it is certainly a lesson to my generation to make a considered commitment not to replicate that insular and exclusionary behavior as we take on more leadership roles in the scene.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 8:35 AM on April 12, 2017 [17 favorites]


Part of the problem is that conventions tend to take a justice oriented point of view toward harassment, where the idea is to determine guilt, meet out some punishment or compensation, and then everyone can be friends again.

Conventions are really ill-equipped for doing this, and taking an "innocent until proven guilty" stance means that harassment complaints get treated skeptically at best. The upshot is usually that the harasser gives a half-assed non-apology, the case is declaired closed, and they are sent off to continue harassing.

A better policy, one that's been worked out over the last couple years, emphasizes not justice, but safety. The question asked isn't "are they guilty?" but rather "What do we need to do to make the guests feel safe and secure? ". That orients matters Seau from guilt, or making a redemption narrative.

But this group of chucklefucks? If one starts from the position that women are lying and over dramatic, snd combines that with "No drama, please", and "These women ate just prudes in the generally sexually free culture of cons", then you get something pretty close to what the convention did.
posted by happyroach at 8:46 AM on April 12, 2017 [25 favorites]


Richard S. Russell obviously knows of Frenkel's behavior, since he was kicked off of WisCon, which he cofounded, in part because of his defense of Frenkel, and also because he strenuously objected to the POC Safer Space at WisCon, despite, you know, actual people of color appreciating it. (Scroll down to N.K. Jemisin's comment; can't link directly to it.) The link to the K. Tempest Bradford post that MartinWisse posted above puts it pretty clearly: this shit happens because people like Frenkel are not only supported and enabled by their buddies, but those same buddies suddenly develop amnesia about these past problems when they're confronted publicly about them. They're liars who will keep lying as long as it works for them, as long as people who wouldn't behave that way themselves keep giving them Get-Out-Of-Being-Called-Out-Free cards.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2017 [16 favorites]


Once again, I quote Sumana Harihareswara on creating a community, "If we exclude no one explicitly, we are just excluding a lot of people implicitly. Including people like me."
posted by fings at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2017 [37 favorites]


When I saw that it was Frenkel, I literally lost control of my limbs with anger. Making him the guest liaison is beyond not caring about harassment. It is actively wanting people to be harassed.

I'm stunned that the lesson the con organizers drew from Frenkel's role in perpetrating the WisCon fiasco is "let's put this guy out front to represent us!"
posted by Gelatin at 8:59 AM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think the lesson they learned is that 'it'll all blow over, nobody will remember your name in a few months, and you can come back'.

I mean, Madison isn't a huge place. They all know each other.

And admittedly, I have trouble remembering everyone who has been accused of sexual harassment in the con circuit and comics community, because there's been so damn many of them.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


That part is super mind-boggling.

I guess if you're pals with the guy, you might listen when he said (hypothetically) that the whole thing was overblown, a witch hunt, hysteria, whatever, but doing that means you have to disregard all the other parties, including witnesses, saying he's a serial bad actor.

It's a mindset I can't even wrap my head around.
posted by uberchet at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2017


If you could get some major authors (game developers, etc) sign on saying, "If you don't abide by SafeCon, we won't EVER come to your convention," soon there'd be some pressure to comply.

(MeFi's own!) John Scalzi declared such a policy back in 2013. A number of other authors and fans also signed on. It isn't like this issue, or the information about Frenkel's transgressions, is anything new. Which makes the con committee's failure of simple decency all the more puzzling and shameful.
posted by Gelatin at 9:43 AM on April 12, 2017 [24 favorites]


when cons were just a way for the "nerd boys" and the "cool girls" to hang out and hook up

speaking of losing control of one's limbs from astonishment, this realm was not then and never was a space for "cool" people of any variety or gender. that accusation is of much more recent vintage.

and many have never been able to make the transition to treating them as a professional space where appropriate boundaries apply

wow wow wow is this not the issue. I spend exactly none of my leisure time in professional spaces -- in my personal interests and hobby venues, I am unprofessional like it's my job -- and this does not make it acceptable for me or anyone else to be sexist, to harass others, or to touch others. Boundaries of society and law are not suspended up until the moment guests start receiving honorariums or some publisher shows up. The idea that this is an issue of professionalism is the same kind of thinking that led whichever one of the con people it was to say that Frenkel had never harassed anybody at this con, so why would you care what he does at other ones? that is: there's a time and place for everything and you just have to keep everything in its proper silo.

but there is not a time and place for everything. there is not a time and place for harassment and there is no kind of casual-Friday-style setting where it becomes more acceptable, as though there's a scale of acceptability for it.

sexual harassment and sexism in general flourish and thrive in genuinely professional settings and professional conferences, sober ones with no costumes except for suits and ties and everything. These people may or may not be worse, I could see it going either way. but they sure are a lot more embarrassing in their communicative style. There is no lesson about professional behavior here, only the same old lesson about sexism and a secondary lesson about how people who think they're smarter than the average are just the worst.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:47 AM on April 12, 2017 [58 favorites]


Following up on Gelatin's post:

What makes it worse in this particular case is that OdysseyCon has a harassment policy -- which apparently it thought inoculated it from criticism from having a known harasser on the staff, in a guest-facing position. Surprise!

With regard to harassment policies, I don't take credit for their spread, but I will note that after I posted the piece saying I wouldn't attend a convention without one, and roughly 1k fans and creators co-signed it, they became a lot more commonplace at conventions, I suspect because it was now obvious a lot of people conventions wanted to bring in fans wanted them there.

But a policy isn't enough. If you post a policy but make it clear you are valuing a known harasser over (in this case) a guest of honor who had negative experiences with that person, you've made it clear your policy is bullshit, and your enforcement of the policy will be bullshit. Harassment policies aren't shields, they're promises. And OdysseyCon broke that promise to their GoH. And if they're going to break it to their GoH, what will they do for a less exalted panelist? Or fan?

It's good that OdysseyCon realized they fucked up and are now trying to wrench themselves back towards making things right, but the damage is done for this year and I suspect for at least a couple of years to come. People deserve to feel safe and be safe at a convention. That feeling is hard to grow and easy to lose. OdysseyCon's lost it.
posted by jscalzi at 9:57 AM on April 12, 2017 [49 favorites]


this realm was not then and never was a space for "cool" people of any variety or gender

I think the term "cool girls" was a reference to how women who put up with or ignore sexism are granted "cool" status within the group and are tolerated, while women who object are deemed uncool and unwelcome. You can be a "cool girl" without being cool in a broader sense.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:59 AM on April 12, 2017 [23 favorites]


OdysseyCon trying to "get right" here is very like United trying to recover from their overbooking cockup. You get the idea they're only changing direction because they've been called out so thoroughly.

This is not evidence of change. This is evidence of wanting the pain to stop. Sure, it's possible both orgs legitimately DO want to do right, but right now there's no actual evidence of that.
posted by uberchet at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


when cons were just a way for the "nerd boys" and the "cool girls" to hang out and hook up.

Translation: when cons were a way for SF writers to sexually harass and assault women without consequences.

Seriously, your view of conventions is from a very uh, limited. As in ignoring the perspectives of the women who don't want to be treated as sexual playthings.

And queenofbithynia has the right of it- this isn't about professional or unprofessional, but treating people with respect or not. It's no more appropriate in a casual fun environment than a professional one.
posted by happyroach at 10:07 AM on April 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yes, sorry. I should have expressed myself more clearly. By "cool girls" I meant to evoke the idea Kutsuwamushi mentions -- it seems the only way for women to be accepted in that scene for decades was to be "cool" with all the inappropriate behavior that went on.

I am not one of those women, and happyroach, I am not really sure how you got that impression from my comment.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


when cons were just a way for the "nerd boys" and the "cool girls" to hang out and hook up.

Translation: when cons were a way for SF writers to sexually harass and assault women without consequences.


I think *both* of these viewpoints are true - if you go digging on this site you’ll find personal reminiscences of women who were active in the con scene back at the time who found the whole 'sexual attention / liberation' thing to be a very positive part of their lives - for them it was part of the *point* of going to cons.

That same behaviour kept a whole bunch of other women (and quite a few men probably) out of the con scene altogether.
posted by pharm at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


We don't have to go back thirty or forty years to find various cons being referred to as meat markets, and as the case with too many sex positive spaces, there are going to be plenty of people - men and women - who seem to be clueless about the importance of consent before touching or propositioning people you don't know. Some of the women were, in fact, up for it, but that doesn't detract from the harm done to the women who were sexually harassed.

Honestly, I don't think things started getting better until maybe five or ten years ago ('cosplay is not consent' is a relatively new phrase), and stuff like this shows that there's still a lot of work to be done.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:29 AM on April 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


>when cons were just a way for the "nerd boys" and the "cool girls" to hang out and hook up.

>>Translation: when cons were a way for SF writers to sexually harass and assault women without consequences. Seriously, your view of conventions is from a very uh, limited. As in ignoring the perspectives of the women who don't want to be treated as sexual playthings.


I feel like those sarcastic quote marks were implying exactly your response.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


The reason why I mention that women do this is that I know female cosplayers who have been groped by random strange women who didn't think it counted as sexual harassment 'because we're all ladies here!', or another occasions where women didn't seem to think randomly turning on porn, starting things off with their SO, and inviting others to join in should count as sexual harassment, because 'everyone knew that's what happened when you hang out in con hotel rooms'*.

Sexual harassment education at cons is very, very much needed, for both men and women.

*I have hung out in con hotel rooms, and most of what goes on in there is drinking, doing last minute fixes to costumes, and naps. So many naps.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:40 AM on April 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


And I absolutely agree that sexual harassment and sexual assault are bad in every setting, professional or not.

I was trying to express the disconnect that many con committees have where they mainly see cons as a way for them and their old friends to spend time together. They think if they and their old friends are content with the social norms (which are often incredibly sexist and racist), that's all that matters.

Thus they are consistently and repeatedly baffled by the pushback they are getting from the younger generation of writers who see these as professional spaces where all should be made to feel welcome and where female and POC writers should be able to participate and promote their work without feeling threatened. They are just not getting that when female and POC writers don't feel comfortable going to a con because of the environment, we are taking a real hit to our careers and even our livelihoods.

So the argument about professionalism is not about where sexual harassment is okay to do (nowhere, obviously), but the extent of the harm that's done. If random Joe and random Bob are jerks when they go out for drinks, I don't really care, I don't have to be friends with them, I can just not go. If Joe and Bob are my colleagues, and I have to make nice with them or else my livelihood suffers, that's a much more personal problem for me. The con comms are casting it in this light like, "If you don't like it, don't be friends with us," but it's not just about socializing, its about the career opportunities that they are denying people.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 10:41 AM on April 12, 2017 [22 favorites]


I mean, my bad con experience definitely involved women who were actively covering for and in one case helping the bad behavior to happen in the moment. So, yeah, the fact that women categorically do not want to be sexualized does not mean that there weren't women involved in creating the hostile atmosphere in the first place. And even a lot of the guys in this older kind of fandom who weren't actively doing this kind of thing still, from what I've seen since, have a tendency to point at those kind of women and go, "Yeah, but they were perfectly comfortable, why did you have a problem?" They had an atmosphere they liked and they had just barely enough women who seemed happy there to keep telling themselves that the problems weren't that big a deal.
posted by Sequence at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


as the case with too many sex positive spaces, there are going to be plenty of people - men and women - who seem to be clueless about the importance of consent before touching or propositioning people you don't know

Historically, this has been an issue in many a space where certain social rules are relaxed; some people take that as an excuse to ignore all rules. "Just because we allow people to have sex in public in this particular space doesn't actually mean that anyone can just join in!" seems to be a perpetual struggle to convey, and not because the rules are confusing, but because so many people are eager to read the slightest relaxation of standard rules of propriety concerning sexual behavior to mean that fundamental issues of consent go out the window, too.

(A situation satirized in this Pizza Hut "there's no rules!!!" ad...)
posted by praemunire at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


I mean, we're also talking about a space where people can't have sex in public, but yeah. It's hard to even say what the standard rules of propriety that have been relaxed even are - other than a loose definition of 'a party atmosphere' - and even that depends on the con.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:56 AM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


The biggest problem is that most of the people who run cons today got involved in fandom when cons were just a way for the "nerd boys" and the "cool girls" to hang out and hook up, and many have never been able to make the transition to treating them as a professional space where appropriate boundaries apply. I think they treat everyone they haven't known for decades as an interloper.

Con spaces have honestly historically been fucking ridiculously freewheeling, originally in ways that are just insanely not cool - just look at the Marion Zimmer Bradley/Walter Breen documents. They're not just notable for how horrific the child molestation is, they're also notable for how many famous science fiction writers at the time knew things were happening but figured it was totes cool if an older man was hitting on a young boy. It's something about the idea that the people who liked science fiction were the Free Thinkers while everyone else was prude normies, that has really caused a lot of fucking problems.

The last time period I was really regularly participating in this circuit was back about ten or fifteen years ago - I still occasionally go now and many of my friends do, but that was when I was kind of immersed in them. And this sort of sexual entitlement was absolutely still on display - from the way it was considered totally cool and normal to ask female fans to dress revealing and hand out flyers to room parties, to the way that honestly, all of the gross old men science fiction authors would leer and hit on any woman they thought was pretty.

And I was a woman who would regularly go to cons to hook up! But there was kind of this understanding that seemed to exist that it was mean and rude to say "what the fuck do you think you're doing" when someone was a creeper. Like, you could say no and it would generally be respected, but when I say respected, I mean "they would still keep asking you every five minutes until you said yes, unless you were obviously with another dude." You just couldn't really say "I am not interested and will never be interested in you, please go away", because if you did, then you were buying into the normal people standards and implying that you might ever not want to fuck someone based on merit rather than just your whim of the moment.

I think it's also worth noting that you can't really separate con from the hotel room parties that happen at con. There's not a lot - from what I saw - of harassment that happens during panels or events - it's mostly in the "private parties" that various groups or individuals hold, with alcohol present, that causes this nonsense. And that's where people get extra fucking tricky about it, because they're like "Their hotel room, their rules!" and "This isn't OFFICIAL con, so it doesn't count!", not considering that honestly half of con activity /is/ in these "private parties."
posted by corb at 11:04 AM on April 12, 2017 [25 favorites]


I was trying to express the disconnect that many con committees have where they mainly see cons as a way for them and their old friends to spend time together. They think if they and their old friends are content with the social norms (which are often incredibly sexist and racist), that's all that matters.
the turtle's teeth

I've been part of a group (not SF, but in the "geek" realm) that's gone through this transition from small group of friends to established organization that hosts yearly conventions. You're exactly right, this is exactly the struggle we've had in the transition. Thankfully not about harassment (though with some minor issues related to inclusion) but I was surprised at how hard it was to get some people out of the "just buddies hanging out" mindset, and this group is only 7 years old.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:04 AM on April 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


Kutsuwamushi: It stacks untruth on untruth; it's a brick in the wall of its own untruth.
This is a wonderful turn of phrase and I'm going to steal it as often as possible.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


wow wow wow is this not the issue.

It does seem especially poignant that, even in this conversation older and more established members of a con community are telling a younger member of the community that they are doing it wrong.
posted by juice boo at 11:53 AM on April 12, 2017


By the way, if anyone thinks that it's only the olds that have to be discouraged from this sort of behavior, let me remind you of the quote-endquote Open Source Boob Project, in which some dude thought it would be a great idea to encourage women to let strangers grope them in public, because he and his buds needed healing for residual man-pain from high school, or something. Public reaction was... not kind.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


I....wha? So. Tired. Of. Being. Ashamed. Of. My. Gender.

(bangs forehead into desk repeatedly)
posted by Samizdata at 12:03 PM on April 12, 2017 [9 favorites]


Yeah. Open Source Boob Project made it to Metafilter at the time.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 12:07 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm going to start a convention called LadyCon where attendees and the concom, of all genders, will be required to comport themselves like gentlewomen, such that they're worth of the title Lady, including avoiding many and various expressions of patriarchy and toxic masculinity.

We will also list all guests with the title Lady, which will serve as a very effective sorting mechanism to keep uncool dudes out because they're too macho to be Ladies. But like, say, Lady of Honor Jim C. Hines would probably love it because he's cool.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:44 PM on April 12, 2017 [36 favorites]


Are the contents of the emails vaguely summarized anywhere? Given that they've now been pulled, it's kind of hard to know where on the scale of fuckup that was from the concom.
posted by corb at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2017


The emails which were publicly released by OdysseyCon as well as their facebook announcements were archived by Natalie Luhrs, which was linked in the OP. The letters from Rihns to Valentinelli are embedded. The ones from Valentinelli to various members of OdysseyCon (the release of which was not authorized by Valentinelli) are behind hyperlinks.
posted by muddgirl at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2017


I’m going to start a convention called LadyCon where attendees and the concom, of all genders, will be required to comport themselves like gentlewomen, such that they're worth of the title Lady, including avoiding many and various expressions of patriarchy and toxic masculinity.

LilithCon
posted by Going To Maine at 2:08 PM on April 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


The ones from Valentinelli to various members of OdysseyCon (the release of which was not authorized by Valentinelli) are behind hyperlinks

Thanks! The hyperlinks for the Valentinelli emails had been removed, thus my confusion, but by opening one of the other hyperlinks I was able to access them.
posted by corb at 2:14 PM on April 12, 2017


The turtle's teeth, I apologize, past experience has made me more than a little sensitive.

I do still kind of disagree with you on the professionalism thing. Treating a convention like a private party is definitely a transition issue, but I think even "for fun" public behavior needs standards. I mean you may not be affected by the behavior of "The guys" when they're out drinking, but the people around them, the barstaff and waitstaff and other people drinking definitely are.

Also, it's not like there ever was a time when conventions were purely a hobbyist thing. There's always been a professional component. So if there's social blindness on the party of the conrunners, it's deliberate.
posted by happyroach at 2:19 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm going to start a convention called LadyCon

I would attend this convention. I will refer to everyone as "her". And I dearly hope Ann Leckie will be your inaugural Guest of Honor.
posted by honestcoyote at 2:43 PM on April 12, 2017 [9 favorites]


older and more established members of a con community

I have to go away and think long and hard about whether I want to be more insulted at the notion I am older than anybody else or by being slandered as a member of any "con community."

wait no it is definitely the second one, that was easy. or libeled, whichever.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:48 PM on April 12, 2017


I would attend this convention. I will refer to everyone as "her". And I dearly hope Ann Leckie will be your inaugural Guest of Honor.

Okay, this is cute and all but I am also not for deliberately misgendering people for the lulz, not even in hypothetical situations.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:59 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Even more previously on the blue.
posted by rtha at 3:29 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


>>I would attend this convention. I will refer to everyone as "her". And I dearly hope Ann Leckie will be your inaugural Guest of Honor.

>Okay, this is cute and all but I am also not for deliberately misgendering people for the lulz, not even in hypothetical situations.


Have you read Leckie's Ancillary books? Part of the deal with them is that everybody, regardless of gender, is referred to with she/her/hers pronouns.

Some of her readers (raises hand) seem to have found this thought-provoking about gender, language, expectations, etc. Other readers found it offensive: how dare you refer to somebody by the wrong pronoun? Still other readers found it puzzling: if your first language is something like Hungarian, which doesn't have gendered pronouns, it's apparently challenging to get hooked into the whole "men get talked about with he/him/his, women get talked about with she/her/hers, and this MATTERS" thing.
posted by Lexica at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have read ancillary justice! And it is an interesting thought experiment, but taking actual men (some who may not be cisgendered) and being like 'I will deliberately misgender you' has some really unfortunate connotations that I would not like to have in my ideal feminist con. : /
posted by dinty_moore at 5:02 PM on April 12, 2017


With Frenkel specifically, I wonder if part of the problem is that no one knew exactly what happened at Wiscon, and why exactly he was banned/fired from Tor. SF fans also often have a particular loathing for taking other people's judgments as accurate (that old nerd solidarity thing, whether or not it was deserved).
posted by corb at 5:15 PM on April 12, 2017


I wonder if part of the problem is that no one knew exactly what happened at Wiscon, and why exactly he was banned/fired from Tor.

One of the other people on the concom is a man (Richard Russell) who was serving on the WisCon concom at the time that all the Frenkel BS was going down. His behavior during that time period caused the rest of the concom to vote to remove him also, and then a third man made a lot of waves by loudly and publicly arguing that Russell was being railroaded etc and this was all terribly unfair. That third man? Greg Rihn, who sent the tone-deaf email to Monica and who has done much of the public-facing communications work for Odyssey Con.

They know. They were there. They were part of it.
posted by KathrynT at 5:31 PM on April 12, 2017 [29 favorites]


Wow. Thanks for noticing and pointing that out KathrynT. Just. Wow.
posted by The World Famous at 5:38 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Credit for that goes to K. Tempest Bradford, not me!
posted by KathrynT at 5:51 PM on April 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


Harassment from women who go to cons is what drove me away from con culture entirely, when my boss and her favorite underlings started sexually harassing me at work and at social gatherings outside of work in an attempt to entice me into going to con with them. I was 19. I'm glad I figured out to stay the fuck away way back then. This continued fuckery is flat out horrifying.
posted by palomar at 6:50 PM on April 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


lol, and now I see that my most ardent sexual harasser is Director of Programming at the local con they used to try to drag me to. Wow.
posted by palomar at 6:53 PM on April 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


I am also not for deliberately misgendering people for the lulz, not even in hypothetical situations.

I was just being playful without it being for the "lulz" or intending to hurt anyone, if that makes sense. I also was making a silly reference to Ann Leckie's books.

I was also flipping the default generic pronoun on its head. English is slowly making its way to "them" as the genderless single pronoun, but "him" is still the default too often. I imagined using "she" as the default when an individual's gender was unknown. I imagined anyone and everyone, at least at this one imaginary con, defaulting in all things to female as the norm, and male as the special case. Rather than the other way around, like it is in much of the world.

And, on a personal note, externally I look like a very butch male. Burly guy with a burly beard. Internally, I feel very androgynous, and will sometimes identify more as female than male, though it's a 50-50 split usually. Gender has always been something I could play with, and I've never felt completely locked in my identity to just being male. If I were at a con, and everyone called me "she" and "ma'am" it would not bother me. Would probably give me a small thrill in ways I can't clearly articulate. A sort of gender bending gameplay just with words alone.

However, I understand gender is much more serious for other people for many different reasons. Therefore I call people by whatever they want me to call them. The last thing I want to do is misgender someone who would be hurt by it. My playful hypothetical was just a playful hypothetical which did not directly address any actual person as the incorrect gender.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:58 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


More from K. Tempest Bradford in the comments section of her post:
While they are finally saying some of the right things here, I want to point out the problem not addressed fully: Gregory felt completely at ease sending an email to Monica while the rest of the concom was still discussing a proper response. (This is per later emails on this subject.) Greg feels so sorry for his terribleness, etc. And communication isn’t their best quality, etc. But Greg shot off an email instead of waiting for the rest of the concom to confer. Did not seem to see any barrier to doing so nor seemed to expect any consequences for it. His email directly harmed the con and was disrespectful to the con’s guest. And yeah, the inciting issue here was Frenkel’s presence. But Rihn’s part in this can’t just go unaddressed by the convention.

This speaks to the overall sense of not feeling safe. A member of the concom defended a serial harasser to Monica in response to her stated fears over harassment. I cannot take anything they say in good faith until they address that as well.

Same goes for emails from and posts by the (I think?) treasurer person who was responsible for putting the email chain up on the Facebook group (without Monica’s permission). When it was brought up that the initial statements and responses were trying to paint Monica as the villain in all this, the excuse was “We didn’t even see your email, and by the time you went public and we saw things twitter and facebook were yelling at us!”

No matter how much the Internet is mad at your organization, that does not excuse any implication that the person reporting feeling unsafe because a harasser is involved in running the con is at fault here. That’s immature. That’s not professional. That’s yet another indication that guests would not have been treated professionally by OddCon as an organization.

Also an indication that attendees will not be treated in a professional manner.

And being a volunteer run con is not an excuse for that. Yeah, you’re all volunteers, but you’re running an event. People attending said event as fans or guests have the right to expect a certain level of safety and respectful treatment from those running the event. That was not what happened. Now they’re sorry. Yet I still do not see that behavior addressed in a meaningful way in this Sorry.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:56 AM on April 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


With Frenkel specifically, I wonder if part of the problem is that no one knew exactly what happened at Wiscon, and why exactly he was banned/fired from Tor.

A lot of people knew exactly what behavior caused him to be banned/fired from Tor. At the time of the incident, he was hosting an industry-sponsored party and there were many witnesses.

What Frenkel defenders mean is that the victim of his harassment didn't publicly state exactly what he did to her or to other victims, which robs them of the opportunity to downplay the incident and police the definition of harassment.
posted by muddgirl at 5:31 AM on April 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


(On further re-reading Frenkel may not have been one of the hosts of the party, I may be misremembering that.)
posted by muddgirl at 5:58 AM on April 13, 2017


The time and energy coming up with excuses that have been addressed (and dismissed) multiple times here and elsewhere may be put to better use pondering why such failures of basic vetting keep on "accidentally" happening all the damn time. Author Annalee Flower Horne (who blogs at The Bias alongside Natalie Luhrs) sums it up pretty well in this Twitter thread:
So here's the thing.

Ensuring the safety of attendees is a core competency for running a con. Failing to ensure the safety of attendees is no different than failing to book a hotel, or failing to assemble a schedule. If you don't know how to enforce basic safety measures for attendees, you don't know how to run a con. Being volunteer-run is no excuse. And before you scoff that you've been doing this for longer than I've been alive? You really don't want to brag about failing for decades. People get harassed, assaulted, and raped at cons. This isn't okay. This isn't fucking Omelas. Take responsibility or stop. running. cons. I've said before that I started attending cons when I was thirteen, and started getting harassed at cons when I was thirteen. If you're creating spaces where girls too young to drive are old enough to be assaulted and you're not horrified by that, you're gross. If you're okay putting women and marginalized people in danger so you can have a good time and not think about harassment? You're gross. I say "gross" because I'm running up against the character limit. What I mean is, you have no business running events and you should stop.
It seems pretty clear that pretty much nobody on this concom had any business running it at all, least of all the same people who went after Frenkel's accusers after WisCon and are apparently still pouting about "political correctness" and the SJW boogeyman.

What really needs to happen is that SFF culture in general (and con culture specifically) needs to engage in some serious introspection on what is acceptable these days. Not that I have a whole lot of hope for that happening in the short term. After all, this is of a piece with the Sad and Rabid Puppies, Gamergate, and other revanchist movements built on rampant bigotry and a general culture of entitlement. In the meantime, wannabe mediators need to step back and realize that their reflexive urge to see changes or actual transparency as an attack on SFF is at least as detrimental as the bad behavior. At this point, fans who keep on trying to come up with defenses of the indefensible are more enablers than anything else, and it's doing far more to hurt SFF than the (badly-needed) airing of dirty laundry or attempts to step away from "tradition."
posted by zombieflanders at 6:28 AM on April 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


This isn't fucking Omelas.

Perfection
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:25 AM on April 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


With Frenkel specifically, I wonder if part of the problem is that no one knew exactly what happened at Wiscon, and why exactly he was banned/fired from Tor.

I have attended two cons in my life and I knew about this so I find it hard to believe anyone really engaged in organizing wouldn't have some clue.

All this is pretty much why cons do not get my money and time. It's not that I think they are all bad, it's that I don't have the life energy to spend figuring out which ones to avoid other than all of them.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:02 AM on April 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've never attended a con and I knew about it from metafilter, which had links to blog posts from number of authors who are not exactly unknown in the genre. If the people running this con "didn't know" then they should not be running cons like this. In addition to all the reasons they shouldn't be doing so.
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on April 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


@corb
It's not required to know what offense an offender was accused of.

The offender in this case was banned by another convention in the same city, had professional consequences due to the nature of the reported actions, and at least one GOH, judging personal interactions with the offender, does not feel safe.

Which part of any of the above paragraph makes the offender a good candidate for any concom or positive PR?

Fairy tale scenario: No one notices, no problems happen. BEST CON EVER

Best case scenario: Said person is a distraction away from your Convention. You lose attendees/Guests/sponsors when people acknowledge discomfort. Con goes under

Worst case scenario: Someone else is harassed, or hurt by said person. Lawyers get involved, Con goes under. Or by making no effort to vet concom members the con implicitly condones his behavior and creates an unsafe convention where other harassers feel welcome, even with a posted code of conduct.

It's not a question if a person can change, improve, learn their lessons.

Sure, that's possible, but is a convention the place for the public (some of who may be uncomfortable/angry/scared because of him) to see if he's 'done the work' or 'changed his ways?'
posted by dreamling at 10:36 AM on April 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I'm on the road but do want to clarify that I in no way think they were unaware of the Wiscon Frenkel Incident. A good portion of fandom was aware of that one. My speculation, before I realized there were overlapping concom members, is that because the incident itself did not have any public-awareness details, and Wiscon is explicitly a feminist con, that OdysseyCon might have felt that Wiscon might have applied stricter standards of what constituted harassment than they themselves would have. And I think there's kind of this vague awareness that Wiscon is often a flashpoint for All Fandom Was Plunged Into War, which if you're not involved in those wars, can make them all kind of seem the same from a certain distance and let you be unaware of their importance.

Normally it takes a huge deal to get someone fired from their publisher, so you could assume fire from that smoke, but Patrick Nielsen Hayden is the one who was really the face of that, and he and Teresa (she of the Nithing Blacklist) didn't come off well in RaceFail '09, so I could see an argument having been made that they are prone to overreacting.

I'm not trying to defend Frenkel, but wanted rather to figure out why a concom would have kept him on after the Noted Controversies. Turned out the answer was simpler than I thought it was! But that's where I was thinking with that.
posted by corb at 11:19 AM on April 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Tad Williams, another OdysseyCon Guest of Honor, has decided not to attend.
posted by jscalzi at 12:49 PM on April 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


OdysseyCon might have felt that Wiscon might have applied stricter standards of what constituted harassment than they themselves would have.

This is also part of the problem: BoyzoneCons will almost always believe that WisCon or its ilk went too far because of the SJWs. Failing that, they'll believe that someone is lying about how bad the offenses were. Failing that, they'll believe that the offender didn't know how bad he was being. Failing that, they'll believe that the offender is really really sorry and it's not fair to take this away from him. Failing that blah blah blah...

The problem is much, much wider than what exactly Frenkel (ptui) did to whom when.
posted by Etrigan at 12:52 PM on April 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


re: Corb's comment on "private parties" as fertile soil for harassment: Cons can require parties to be open to everyone (WisCon has done this for at least a decade).
posted by Jesse the K at 1:15 PM on April 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not trying to defend Frenkel, but wanted rather to figure out why a concom would have kept him on after the Noted Controversies.

It's easy to overthink these things, when often the answer is just "He didn't do anything I wouldn't do, and what's with these hysterical prudes anyway?"
posted by happyroach at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Cons can require parties to be open to everyone (WisCon has done this for at least a decade).

They can, provided the hotel allows *any* of them to be open-door. Readercon, for example, doesn't allow open-door parties, nor did MidAmericon II.

Ironically, I've seen people defend exclusively closed-door parties as a way of preventing sexual harassment, due largely, I think, to the private / public issues corb mentioned. Certainly, if the only thing that happens after hours is that people who are already friends meet in their own hotel rooms, that definitely prevents sexual harassment (or, at least, sexual harassment that can be attributed to the con itself*). But that has its own issues: closed-door parties are, by definition, isolated (thus entrapping), and the absence of open-door parties makes the social groups at cons even more insular than they tend to be. It's also far easier to groom new victims if you flatter them by inviting them to the only party they can access after hours.

* Taken to the extreme -- invites to a limited crowd of people, all of whom the person knows by name already -- closed door parties may also *encourage* victim-blaming. If the assumption is that the only parties you are *supposed* to be attending are parties held by people you are already friends with, then sexual harassment by an acquaintance already means that you've violated the rules.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:08 AM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


The other thing that I think impacts things with the closed door parties is that cons are a lot larger and thus more tightly controlled, with fewer opportunities for fans to casually meet authors than there used to be. There's still book signings, but those lines wrap around entire hallways, with hundreds of people waiting in line and sometimes not everyone in the line not even getting to the front. The format doesn't allow a lot of time for casual chat.

So you get this dynamic where most fans can't access the authors many of them come to see, unless they get invited to a private party where they all hang out together and are drinking. And you know, when you see that happen, it's rarely random male fans that get invited to these things. You'll often see a room full of people who work in the industry and then a few very pretty younger women who are clearly excited to be there but are getting hit on an awful lot.

And I think there's a dynamic when you are invited to a "special" party on sufferance not to make any waves, because then you'll be thrown out. If a famous author grabs your ass, and you're just a random fan, what are you going to do in that situation?
posted by corb at 6:21 AM on April 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


What, this again?

What, this specific guy again?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:56 PM on April 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


According to jscalzi's Twitter feed, all three original GoHs have now dropped out, as well as sponsor Pegasus Games. Unfortunately (yet predictably), this has stirred up the kind of assholes that regularly fail to meet the baseline for being a decent person, and the GoHs and sponsors that no longer attending may be taking a financial hit from doing so.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:47 PM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Replacement GoHs have been named. Things don't look good.
posted by Lexica at 2:23 PM on April 19, 2017


From the bio:
Should the whole barrel of apples be discarded because some were bad? I say no.
I mean, the saying is "a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch," so...
posted by zombieflanders at 2:42 PM on April 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


Odyssey Con: Still on Fire
posted by zombieflanders at 4:41 AM on April 20, 2017


I mean, the saying is "a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch," so...

How the hell does LITERALLY EVERYONE these days fail to realize this?? Like it bothers me not only for the obvious reasons but just like from an English nerd perspective
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:37 AM on April 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


Originally the notion was that you had to root out the bad apples before they could ruin the rest of the community. That usage doesn't make sense if you think the entire community has rot at its heart - something that it sounds like the Frankel scandal indicated (to say nothing of other harassment scandals).

So, to me, the use of the idiom says less about the issue and more about the speaker's perspective on the issue: they mean to convey that this is the first stage of something that will be nipped in the bud.

In this case, that notion is at odds with the facts.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2017


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