Readercon–It’s Not Rocket Science. It’s Litigious.

Okay. Immediate personal crises are dealt with.

Sekhmet: does in fact have not so benign cancer. We think we got all the tumor out, but we aren’t sure. We are on lump watch. Her cancer isn’t particularly aggressive, and we anticipate that if we get regrowth at all, it’ll be slow. She’s a 12-year old cat. She should have several good years in her yet.

Water heater: I have one now. I have hot water. You don’t appreciate it as much until you don’t have it.

Work: I’m back at work. Yay.

Coming: One more Taos post, vacation post, an Interview (!), a special interview with Tiffany Trent on a new book, a review of an ARC of Quantum Coin by E.C. Myers, and why travel by air is dead to me.


But first, I guess it’s time to write about being a woman. And…being a geek. There’s been an interesting proliferation of strange posts from around the Internet.

And I want to talk about two of them in two very different posts, because one is more gravely serious than the other, but the other is something I know quite a bit about in my former life as Cosplay Queen.


Everyone has an opinion about Readercon and the two-year hiatus given to Rene Walling. My personal opinion is like most people’s: I am saddened by the lack of sensitivity to the issue, and I am outraged that the convention seems to be carrying on with business as usual, especially after a campaign season that saw serious attacks against women’s person-hoods. Sometimes it just seems like society is out to remind you that no, you haven’t come a long way, baby (courtesy of Viriginia Slims). Thanks for the right hook, Readercon.


Look, Readercon, let’s do this logically, because you know, it’s a new approach.

Let me talk to you as Board President of Mindbridge for a second, okay? We had to ban a person last year from one of our venues because we had logged instances of unwanted touch. Personal feelings aside (yuck!), there is a much more pragmatic concern. The liability of your organization in regard to a potential felon’s activities, especially if you are aware of that potential, and it is known you are (you must admit that the knowledge that your perp is an offender is out there, thanks to the magical and awesome power of the Internet), is a high liability. If for no other reason than your personal liability and potential sue-ability, get this guy off your books, and ban him. Honest to God, this is not a question of morality, this is a question of protecting your organization and your own legal futures. Ask yourself: Is he worth the risk to your convention, your staff, and you personally?


Next…don’t pull a Penn State. It is easy to pretend that you don’t see what is going on. Outrage from the fan community should prove to you that you have not taken the easier path, given that you’ve caused quite a stir and that’s a very long list of names on that petition. The Penn State example is similar to what’s happening with your convention. You are under-reacting to a serious injustice and minimizing the culpability of a serious offense. Should you walk away from this highly suspicious situation, and hang the victims out? It spoke ill of Penn State officials, and it speaks ill of you. And again, it makes you liable.


Finally, it is an interesting assumption that you assume Waller can straighten up and fly right on his own, that you are even involving yourself in the question of his reform. This is not your concern. Your job is to protect your event, its attendees, and its staff. That’s your raison d’etre. It’s not to help a perp reform. I doubt much you have the qualifications or the ability to make the judgment that he has. What would you require as proof? How would you test him? How would you determine he is Readercon safe? This is logical balderdash.

Simply put, you owe your attendees a good experience so they will come back. You owe everyone at your convention a safe, comfortable experience. And your duty, no more, no less, is the custodianship of Readercon. By putting yourself and the convention at potential legal risk, you are failing in that basic duty.


So, those are my logical reasons for why you’ve got to ban Rene Walling, Readercon. If you won’t do it because his actions are immoral and reprehensible, why not go for the self-preservation angle? Unless, of course, you think Rene Walling is worth a huge reduction in attendance, possible litigation, a destroyed reputation, and a future of uncertainty.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

3 thoughts on “Readercon–It’s Not Rocket Science. It’s Litigious.”

  1. Well said, Cath. And another thing that all the “but maybe he needs help reforming!” people discount is that maybe being banned from a con is the help he needs to realize that yes, his behavior is a problem and he’d better change it before something much more serious results. Letting someone who breaks the stated rules off easy sends the message that they can go on getting away with breaking the rules.

  2. I was wondering whether anyone else was pondering how the vaunted Readercon leadership had missed this (at least to me) blatantly obvious issue.
    I mean, are they not supposed to be the Cambridge intellectually literati glitterati?

    (I know the individuals collectively responsible for the wavery-looking decisionmaking have since resigned. I’ve just recently been directed to this post and that part just … continued to stick out at me.)

  3. Rooo:

    Yup. Well, it’s easy to lose track of the legal side of things in regard to a highly charged emotional issue.

    I like the way that the legal side of things can curtail further disregard, if used in an appropriate fashion.


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