Dis-con disinvites Toni

What had clearly been inevitable this week and was probably fated from the start has happened:

I’m going to mount a very limited defence of the original decision to invite Toni Weisskopf as a guest of honour but mainly to highlight a broader point that has come up before. In particular I’m reminded of an utterly different controversy just over a year ago when Clarksworld published a story by Isabel Fall that generated a lot of controversy and ended up causing a lot of pain for the author https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/well-i-guess-im-writing-about-clarkesworld-again/

So firstly, the original invite. I know I and lot of people looked at the original announcement that Toni Weisskopf would be Guest of Honour mainly because of her connection with notable Sad Puppies and while not part of the campaign, at least in the general vicinity of it including this essay published at Sarah Hoyt’s blog https://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/03/10/the-problem-of-engagement-a-guest-post-by-toni-weisskopf/ BUT! 2014 was a long time ago and people said a lot of things. Toni Weisskopf genuinely is a very notable figure in science fiction and in fandom and has fostered a lot of talent and is an interesting and entertaining speaker (based on what I have heard from her as a guest on podcasts). If we imagine a space of potential Guests of Honour for a Worldcon, she’s part of that space. Yes, associated with right-wing politics but not herself in that space of people you really shouldn’t platform because they put your attendees at risk. So as a decision looked at within a very narrow lens, not inherently absurd.

Extend that lens a bit wider, and it was a very bold decision by DisCon. Firstly, 2015 may be a long time ago but there are a lot of emotions around the Hugo Awards that year on ‘both sides’ as they say. A Worldcon making a kind of rapprochement is an interesting step and maybe, a good thing. As people keep pointing out, there are a lot authors in Baen’s stable and there a lot of fans who like them. However, even a moments thought reveal a whole pile of ways the invitation could go horribly wrong. People who followed the Puppy Kerfuffle closely would be aware of the complexity of Toni’s/Baen’s role in it but many fans with better things to do with their lives are aware of the general nature of things (an attempted far-right take over of the Hugo awards) without making fine distinctions between Vox Day’s overt racism and the messier world of the Sad Puppies. Sooner or later somebody was going to frame this as “DisCon has invited the racist Puppies back”. So what then?

Inviting Toni Weisskopf could be a bold move but a bold move requires strategy. If there was pushback (and sooner or later there would be public pushback and I know there was private pushback) WHAT WAS THE PLAN? I love the quirky anarcho-democracy of Worldcon but it isn’t a governance method that can easily pivot and control messaging and this would have been a difficult bit of messaging towards a membership used proverbially by cats in the phrase “It’s like herding Worldcon members”. I can imagine a different style of con pulling off the controversial guest plan but we know Worldcon can’t.

Worse! That was the BEST CASE scenario. The above ignores the key point about Baen and fandom. Despite the “oh but there’s Eric Flint and X, Y, Z” authors, Baen’s brand is intimately connected with a set of right-wing, loud mouth contrarians. It’s connected to them because 1. they are loud bullying voices who take up all the oxygen in the room and 2. Baen’s played along with their schtick for years. In particular, Larry Correia, Tom Kratman and Michael Williamson but to a lesser extent John Ringo as well. I won’t document the multiple brouhahas we’ve seen from them over the years but just wave in the general direction of my blog archives.

Now Toni Weiskopf isn’t the keeper of that quartet. She’s not their mum or their employer. However, when they go off on one they tend to drag Baen into things as a brand. Baen has played into that and even played along with that https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/10/19/a-chronicle-of-outrage-marketing/ The particular trio of Larry/Tom/Mike also tend to drag in other Baen authors or former Baen authors like John Ringo, David Weber, Sarah Hoyt and Dave Freer into the brouhaha of the day. It’s all part and parcel of the we-are-under-constant-attack-by-SJWs ideology they promote.

So that leads to two other things a Worldcon needs to plan for if they invite Toni Weisskopf as a guest:

  1. There was a near certainty that one of the set of controversialist/outrage marketing authors listed above were going to be doing SOMETHING controversial within the next few months and would drag “Baen” as a brand into it and by extension drag Toni Weisskopf into it. You’d need a plan for that.
  2. Any criticism, concern or issues raised by Worldcon adjacent fans about Toni Weisskopf had a high chance of being perceived as an attack by Larry Correia (in particular) who would respond with his trade mark tactic of setting a mob on people on the fan (but in a deniable way). You’d need a plan for that as well and you’d need a plan that included Toni Weisskopf outlining how she’d get Larry to back down (and if the answer was that she has no control over Larry [fair enough, understandable] then…well, you have to ask how this was EVER going to work).

We got option 2 and DisCon didn’t have a plan and I doubt they had a plan for any of the three scenarios not because they are incompetent but because Worldcon’s really can’t manage these kinds of PR risks easily. Now, that’s not great for Toni Weisskopf and I’ve got some sympathy for a woman whose professional profile is being impacted by shouty right-wing men. It is the situation though. Baen’s always leaned right but as we’ve seen it’s not conservative ideology in an abstract sense that is the issue per-se but a bunch of pseudo-libertarians who regard online misbehaviour and brigading as an expression of their personal freedom. Baen’s played into that, first with John Ringo and then with Larry C etc and other authors have (with less success because their core personalities don’t match) tried to play along with that approach (Hoyt, Freer, Torgersen) and other Baen authors have fallen in to back them up (Weber). That’s been a business decision by Baen and hence by Toni Weisskopf and I don’t know how they can extricate themselves as a business from it.

Baen’s not my main point here though. As people like to say Science Fiction should take risks. However, “risk” implies that there are potentially bad outcomes. To go off on a tangent, consider Taika Waititi’s film JoJo Rabbit which had an imaginary Hitler as a comical role in a story about a family hiding a Jewish girl from the Nazis during WWII — that was a risky idea that could have gone horribly, horribly wrong. It didn’t but 1. I get why many people I know wouldn’t watch it and 2. it took a lot of skill to make it work and it still could have been a disaster.

Risk implies possible bad consequences. A risky decision that entails no chance of bad stuff happening is a contradiction. To skip back to the earlier example of the Clarksworld story, reclaiming/subverting a right-wing transphobic meme is a bold (even laudable) idea but the obvious risk with the idea is that a story attempting to do that might end up looking like it’s endorsing a right-wing transphobic meme. That doesn’t mean Clarksworld shouldn’t take risks but what it does mean is they NEED TO PLAN FOR THE MOST OBVIOUS RISK. They didn’t, and an author got hurt.

I really, really, don’t think Toni Weisskopf should be persona non-grata for science fiction cons. I think she’d be an interesting guest but there are risks and those risks need to be managed. One of those risks is that if somebody is critical of a guest of honour then they shouldn’t find that Larry Correia is siccing his comment section on them and ringing up their employer. That’s a shitty situation for a prominent woman in professional science fiction having to shoulder the behaviour of poorly behaved man but I literally can’t see how a Worldcon committee can deal with that as an issue.

120 thoughts on “Dis-con disinvites Toni

  1. I think the biggest problem was Weisskopf’s response to the issue, which was tin-eared and almost directly came out and said that Baen wasn’t going to do anything of consequence to address the issue. If Weisskopf had come out with a statement saying they were going to replace the moderators making violent posts, monitor the forums better, and implement policies that would try to clamp down on advocacy for murder and insurrection, just like they moderate on other topics, she could have saved her position with Worldcon no matter what Correia and the others said.

    She didn’t do that.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. To be fair, Worldcon could not forseen that somethink that bad would happen. Minor Problem yes, somethink so big, no.
        They probably bet on if somethink happened that it wouldn’t affect Weiskopf that much.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well…there’s not be a year yet in which one of those guys haven’t made asses of themselves in public and in a way that Worldcon members would have noticed AND they routinely drag other Baen authors into it.

        For example we had the whole Wikipedia thing in 2019 in which there was a whole pile of brigading and doxxing and multiple Baen authors got dragged in.

        2020 was a relatively quiet year for them.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I give you that some scandal was probably going to happen, the question is if Worldcon could forsee that it would be a problem for them.
        LC or MJW are not the problem of worldcon. Anythink not involving TW would have not Worldcons Problem, or a minor one.
        That gamble failed spectaculary, but even if they were prepared to deal with fallout, they weren’t prepared to get in a situation, where there was discusion going on, if they had to disinvite a GOH.
        I mean I hope worlcon had a strategy for the other cases but this was one where they had to get it completly right, so they had to wait.
        And it sucks that doxing of people is now a eventually if you plan to chose a GOH.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sympathetic to your sympathy, Camestros, but Weisskopf has been playing this hand for as long as I can remember. As my father likes to say, “if it hurts when you do that, DON’T DO THAT.”

    Liked by 6 people

      1. It was easier to find this online than go looking on our shelves:

        “When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. When you desire a consequence you had damned well better take the action that would create it.”
        ― Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory, published by Baen books.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Ok just who is Baen Books? Who owns them? Is it Toni? Is it a small group of investors? Is it Simon and Schuster who originally created them with Jim Baen thirty five years ago? It does make a difference. We know who Tir Books, we know who owns Tachyon Publishing. But we talk about Baen in the abstract.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s privately owned. I assume Toni Weiskopf is an owner. I’d guess it has some private investors but I’ve no idea what it’s governance model is (i.e. does Toni W have to formally answer to anybody?)

      I saw your comment on File 770 and went looking and found…nothing 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I understand that Tom Docherty was one of the original investors. I’ve no idea whether he still has an ownership stake.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She inherited Jim Baen’s share of the company though I don’t know how much that is. Simon & Schuster financed the company and to my knowledge Tom Doherty had nothing to do with it.


      3. As of just a few years ago, Tom Doherty was interviewed by Locus and Publishers Weekly and he said. both times,that Baen Books was created by a number of investors, including himself, one more, and Jim. This is still true. It’s pretty common knowledge in the industry. But, no, she does not answer to anyone, as everyone else are silent partners.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Which makes it a bit harder to seperate Toni’s role from Baen’s positioning as catering to the RWN crowd.


  4. …and was probably fated from the start…

    You could have omitted the word “probably”. That’s been clear since ConCarolinas 2018 if not before.

    I did enjoy your thoughts about there being some sort of rapprochement. Not this year.

    Now listening to Last Of Our Kind by The Darkness

    “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check.” – M. C. Escher

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As Aaron, I think this one was on Weisskopf. It was her own response that doomed her. While I think there always would have been problems and some bad feelings, other things could have been blamed on the specific author involved. The forums were entirely Weisskopf’s domain with no one else to take the burden of guilt.

    She mishandled the response and then it wasn’t possible to keep her.

    I do not fault DisCon 3 for inviting her, but she made the decision untenable in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before the stormning of the Capitol.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. It seems the strategy to wait and see what Toni Weisskopf decided about Baen’s Bar was foreclosed by the number of people on the committee who weren’t willing to temporize, and threatened to or already quit. You can’t run a Worldcon without staff.

    Our current culture wars are bringing to mind today a line from David Halberstam’s Vietnam War book The Best and The Brightest — to the effect that you could not expect to transplant to Vietnam political values that barely worked at home.

    Yes, this is about how well they work.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I think a big problem was that Toni already made clear what her response was. When she says:

      “It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes.”

      The only implication one can take from that is that Baen’s Bar is not going to moderate for violent rhetoric of the kind that was raised as an issue. There isn’t really much in the way of waiting and seeing what Toni would do when he’s made her position fairly clear already.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. So wait, does that mean the people who have claimed to have been banned for their posts are lying? Or is Toni lying about policing the opinions of posters at the Bar? Hmm, ’tis a mystery for the ages.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Unrelated, but I have already see Baen-stan’s make demands that Discon ban File 770 for the “violent content” hosted there. They haven’t actually provided any evidence to back that up, but I found it kind of funny to see.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. They haven’t actually provided any evidence to back that up…
        That’s because it would all be quotes from Correia and Tank Marmot.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Well, shit. I’m gonna have to run right over to 770 and post some violent content before it gets any later. Maybe something about Ted Cruz’s dad assassinating JFK? Maybe something about blood pouring out of Sean Hannity’s “where-ever”? Maybe making a general offer to pay the legal bills of anyone beating up political opponents? Ooh, ooh, how about calling for people protesting police violence to be shot as a way of ‘protecting property” and then buying anyone who does so a beer?

        At least one commenter over at 770 actually claimed that the Left (capitalized, mind you) has been using lots more violent rhetoric than the right.

        I have a headache.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Interesting ban a site, okay File 770 is not alowed to become a member of worldcon. I don’t think a website was ever a member of a worldcon.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. A website has never been a member of the Worldcon, and yet stuffed animals have. This injustice cannot be allowed to stand!

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I neglected to mention that they changed the rules years ago to keep stuffed animals from becoming members. Members now have to be “people.” Just wait til Timothy hears about that!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Maybe they have to be people, but do they have to be alive?

        (Robert Bloch was Guest of Honour at both Torcon I in 1948 and Torcon II in 1971. At Torcon III in 2003 they officially listed the now-late Robert Bloch as the GoHst of Honour.)

        Granted, a dead GoH is a lot less likely to embarrass the convention…

        Liked by 2 people

      7. I once saw a Cabbage Patch Kid with an official Worldcon badge.
        He was wearing a fancy brocade jacket, ruffly shirt, and wig.
        His badge read “Wolfie Mozart, Vienna, Austria”.

        I do not think either Timothy or File 770 would be that cute.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. Aaron beat me to it: Weisskopf has already made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t have a problem with hosting a forum in which right-wingers fantasize about the mass murder of liberals and anyone else who isn’t a Trump cultist; whatever decision she eventually makes about Baen’s Bar isn’t going to change that.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Also, I have seen a couple of Baen-stans screaming that Discon is anti-Semitic now. Their claims are empty and meaningless, but that’s the dishonest angle some of them are taking.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe there were people objecting to a possible Israeli WorldCon bid, so accusing fans of anti-semitism is not entirely misplaced.


      1. Phew. I was worried that for a blog that occasionally dabbles in explaining logic that I didn’t have enough examples of fallacies for my collection! And look, you cram at least two into a single sentence! Maybe three?

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Yeah I expected that because Toni is Jewish. Discon did this on the grounds that she had the very real potential to attract to the Con to some really nasty individuals who could be a very real threat to others. It has nothing to do with Rae, gender or creed.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I really have to wonder. Most publishers have a very standard Morality Clause in their contracts to the effect that if the author does or says something detrimental to the Publisher their contract can be voided. Does Baen not have such an elementary clause?

    If they don’t, then this mess is their fault. They failed to plan for failure.

    If they do, then Weisskopf was lying when she said that Baen has no intention of policing their authors. If authors cause more trouble than they’re worth, void their contracts and lose the liability they represent.

    Either way, Weisskopf and Baen are now reaping the consequences of their actions and no amount of Right-wingnut bloviating will change that.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, the risks Cam pointed out included the troubles Baen authors (who are heavily emotionally invested in those forums) weaponising their fans can cause to Cons. This reflects poorly upon their publisher and may cause them to lose money. Most businesses see that as a Bad Thing(tm). Lose the authors and the fans have no reason to stick around. Ask M!lo Y and his former fans how well deplatforming works.

        And the forums themselves? Of course she has total control, disingenuous statements notwithstanding. Actions, consequences and all that.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I think she’s confusing morality clauses in Hollywood contracts with author warranties to publishers that they don’t have anything harmful in their written work like recipes that will poison someone, etc. But no, publishers don’t have a lot of legal ability to try to control the “morality” of authors whose literary properties they are licensing for production. The author is not an employee or a contracted employee of the publisher but instead a business partner through the license.


      2. In an era where publishers are still making big bets on individual writers but overall profits are strained, a single scandal can harm their bottom line, and publishers—especially big houses like Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House— have increasingly turned to morality clauses to protect themselves.


        They may be wrong, they may be not worth signing, but it’s the publishers who hold all the cards. If the author won’t sign the contract, the publisher doesn’t publish them. Don’t agree to the terms, you don’t get to play the game.


      3. The thing is, nothing about the existence or nonexistence of morality clauses matters at all in this situation. Despite Flint, Correia, and the rest of Baen’s stable trying to characterize this as an attack on Baen’s publishing, the criticism was about the moderation (or rather lack of moderation) of comments advocating for insurrection and mass murder on Baen’s Bar.

        This isn’t about authors embarrassing a publisher (although Correia and Flint certainly have tried to do that with their commentary on the subject), this is about posters on a forum that is wholly controlled by Baen, who almost certainly agreed to a ToS that gives Baen total control over what is posted there.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought morality clauses were meant to keep gay authors/actors in the closet. I’m pretty sure they went away in the 1970s. Are there really such clauses still in contracts today?


  10. Tom Doherty did invest in Baen Books’ founding along with some others, but probably they aren’t stakeholders anymore. S&S was/is Baen Books’ distributor. So Weisskopf is either sole owner or majority stakeholder and I don’t think anybody else has a say. But I don’t know for sure.

    I would suspect, though I don’t know, that the organizers of the current WorldCon invited Weisskopf to be the Editorial Guest of Honor as a sort of make peace gesture, it being several years since the Puppies, N.K. Jemisin having won a Hugo triptych, etc., so let’s put it all behind us sort of thing. Which is one of the downsides of WorldCon being a roving con with different organizers each year — you do lose consistency of policy. It was too soon to invite Weisskopf to do it, not at any SFF convention but certainly a WorldCon one.

    All Jason did was go to a public online forum that anyone can look at and look at public posts put there for anyone to see and say, hey would you look at these public postings, they’re disturbing in the light of recent events and Baen as the host might want to deal with the situation. It’s like pointing out a billboard and saying that maybe that’s not the kind of thing the billboard owner might want in the space.

    And the response is, how dare you point out the billboard, just ignore it, it isn’t important, and since you pointed out the public billboard on the public road, we’re going to dox and death threat you. If they didn’t want people looking at what they posted and pointing it out and reacting to it, they could have had a private chat room — Snapchat, Slack, any number of online arenas that remain private groups as long as nobody leaks posts. Instead they shouted through a bullhorn in the public square — Baen’s forums, Facebook, their public blogs, etc. — and then are astonished that anybody might have heard their public pronouncements.

    Public pronouncements that embarrass most of them and they don’t want people talking about, mind you. Because they know that the posts are bigoted, violent and extremist views being aired in public for all to see and compare to the same sort of public posts made by the people who stormed the Capitol and are currently being arrested by the FBI. You’d think that they’d want those posts scrubbed, at the least in case one of their acquaintances commits a violent act, though of course snaps of those posts are now preserved. But instead, they just keep trying to bully people to pay no attention to their very public billboards and screaming that at least they didn’t actually blow anything up yet.

    If Weisskopf had scrubbed the forums, got rid of the political sub-forum and said we’ll have no more of that in our space, then there would still probably be upset from some that she’s the Ed guest of DisCon because of past history, but it wouldn’t have been a roaring problem that Discon would have to detach from and they’d likely still have her attend. She is the publisher (and owner) of a major publishing house, after all. But instead she attempted to placate those people mucking up her PR forums while also declaring that as long as there’s nothing that makes her company legally liable for violence that comes from posts advocating anti-civil rights violence, she’s happy to keep having that be a regular feature of their forums. Which she’s free to make as a choice, put up all those billboards for all to see, but it violates WorldCon’s code of conduct. As long as everybody could pretend that she didn’t know the very public billboards were there on her patch, then they could pretend that she’s politically neutral. But when, having them pointed out, she’s happy to keep sponsoring them, that’s an endorsement of what they contain.

    A huge social media corporation like Twitter, for instance, can keep up the myth that they aren’t in charge of their space anytime they don’t feel like being in charge because their service has become a central utility tool. But a smaller company like a mid-sized book publisher having some PR discussion forums — that’s not essential. It’s Weisskopf making a decision about her company brand. And WorldCon/DiscCon making one about theirs and their policies of conduct people trust them to follow. People do not generally trust and want to work with people who either talk about throwing them out of helicopters or who sponsor those who say stuff like that. Publicly, on their online billboard. So Weisskopf really didn’t give the convention any other choice.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Not sure if WordPress lets more than one level of threading, but an Electric Literature essay that cites no evidence or sources that morality clauses are ubiquitous, but just insists that publishers are starting to use them, shouldn’t be taken all that seriously, and certainly doesn’t show that such contracts are “very standard” or that Baen uses them at all.


    1. Yeah, I think that there would be a lot more screaming going on among authors and their agents if vaguely worded morality clauses were being shoved into major house publishing contracts. In the Mark Halparin case mentioned as an example, that’s not a morality clause issue; it’s a legal liability that Halparin indemnified the publisher against. Halparin is a non-fiction journalist writer writing about himself and other non-fiction issues. And so the accusations against him meant that material in his next proposed book violated his indemnities clauses, not simply that he was unethical to others. And after Penguin dropped the deal, Regan Arts imprint of Simon & Schuster picked Halaprin’s book deal right up and published it.

      Publishers can cancel a contract whenever they want; they just won’t get back the parts of the advance they’ve already paid the author and any production costs if they actually produced the book. They can also cancel a contract because the author hasn’t delivered a ms. or hasn’t delivered one that is editorially acceptable to the publisher and that is a vague, broad swath pretty much controlled by the publisher. In that case, the publisher can then demand back any advance monies paid to the author (usually just the on contract signing portion,) because the author failed to deliver the licensed product. So publishers don’t really need a morality clause as a cancellation excuse. It can be much easier for publishers to put in a clause where the author is committed to certain publicity requirements and if there’s a scandal that messes that up, say that the author failed on that contractual aspect. I don’t know that they’re doing that either, but that would be a better failsafe than a morality clause.

      For fiction, which isn’t time sensitive, it’s rare that a publisher cancels a contract. If an author doesn’t deliver, the publisher may well just give the person more time to deliver it. (It’s very common for authors to miss contracted delivery dates on ms.) And if what they send in is editorially unacceptable to them, they usually try to fix that with the author first before cancelling. And fiction authors are much less attractive to t.v. and radio media than non-fiction authors since the 1990’s; most fiction P.R. doesn’t go past the print media and book signings stage. Most fiction readers know very little about the lives of the authors whose works they buy and don’t care to know. So the person would have to be a very prominent fiction author and the scandal very bad and widely covered for it to be a massive concern for publishers.

      And for books, especially non-fiction, controversy can be the selling point. Conservative pundits write books about their scandals and the big publishers publish them. When American Dirt, a novel about Latinos by a white author, was brought out with fanfare by its publisher and an Oprah endorsement, Latin American authors complained that the book was inaccurate and bigoted in its portrayals and that fiction works by Latino authors didn’t get Oprah’s attention or the same sort of treatment the white author did. American Dirt shot up the bestseller lists.

      So while it wouldn’t entirely shock me if some publisher tried some sort of morals clause indemnity in contracts, it’s not really something that publishers would need to include in addition to what they already have at their disposal. It’s not like an actor who is in a movie, is the draw for the movie, does massive press for the movie, has their face splashed all over billboards and buses for the movie, etc. And literary agents would be very unhappy and going to war on those clauses if the big publishers were trying to insert them.

      But as pointed out, this controversy is not about Baen’s books and authors, much as Puppies keep trying to pretend, nor has Baen shown much interest in the morality of its authors. It’s about a publicity feature on their website — a discussion forum — that does not have to exist at all and can be done however Baen wants it to be. Baen is hosting hate speech on their company website and Weisskopf has decided to continue doing that. That does violate the convention’s equivalent of a morality clause — a code of conduct meant to make sure everyone’s rights at the convention are respected, not just conservatives. The decision is about Weisskopf’s behavior, not other folks’.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m deeply disappointed in this Discon announcement. The noun “Baen Books” in the opening sentence is clearly construed as singular. The possessive form is therefore Baen Books’s, not Baen Books’.

    O tempura, o morays!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well there’s nothing threatening about that at all, is there? That would fit right into the politics section of the Baen Bar.

        “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.” – Frank Zappa


  13. I certainly don’t mind, Cam, but will just mention in passing that I was quite explicitly speaking _against_ Commander Ivanova’s advice.

    Also, I could have sworn that those devices have no way to function in District of Columbia or elsewhere on a planetary surface. Did I miss a memo?


    1. Indeed – but I had also pictorially advocated for moderating even harmless (and obviously humorous) comments of a certain nature. Dann is quite right to hold me to the standards I had advocated.


      1. As mentioned, I have absolutely no problem with your elision, Cam.

        By contrast, dann665’s (or “Dann’s”, or whatever he/she is called) immediately upthread supposition, that my mentioning an Ivanova joke was “threatening”, is a different thing: Now, that is cheeky bushwah, worth a good bit of mocking.

        Or at least deploying my legions of minions to perform assigned mocking thereof.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “Cheeky Bushwah” — Camestros needs to make another character by that name, to go along with Chiseled McEdifice!


      3. @Cam

        I didn’t really offer that comment with the hope that you would edit anything. I wouldn’t hold Rick’s comment against you any more than I hold the other comments on Baens Bar against Ms. Weisskopf.

        @Rick Moen

        Pick a standard. Can people be joking when they use such language or are they “joking”? Are they blowing off a little steam or are they “blowing off a little steam”? If the answer can only be divined after a speaker’s political preferences are identified, then you are essentially advocating for a “heads you win, tails they lose” society. That won’t play any longer. It never should have played in the first place.

        Civilization requires civility. Before someone asks for civility they had better demonstrate it. Leadership is a “by example” activity.

        FBOFW, I’m not perfect on that subject. But I’m working on it. I’m also doing my best to talk people in my corner of the political pool away from the more extreme elements that are out there. You can make my job easier by not enabling double standards. Thanks very much in advance…

        I would also point out that your casual pronoun indifference would be interpreted by some as latent transphobia…if you were a conservative. Just ask Gina Carano.

        What “multiculturalism” boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture. – Thomas Sowell


      4. Dann665,

        In my mind, when someone invokes violence against a group or a person and then claims that they are “joking,” they are automatically placed in the “bad faith” column. No discussion needed.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. // Can people be joking when they use such language or are they “joking”? Are they blowing off a little steam or are they “blowing off a little steam”?//

        Like I said, I actually drew a picture about this. Most of the time people really are joking, as Rick pointed out there’s a lot in the context of what he posted that makes the joking part obvious (chucking people out of airlocks is only a thing in fiction, he was saying people shouldn’t do it, the only class/group of people he was applying it to was Guests of Honour etc).

        Jokes about violence can be just that, jokes — but they can also be ways of softly normalising violence. So we can also look at the wider picture. Was Rick’s joke about airlocks a common trope/meme used by the left about people on the right? No or at least not that I’m aware of – unlike, say, the helicopter meme. Nor does it reference actual historical events. If we are looking for a joke on the left that is closer to the more dangerous kind of rhetoric, you’d be better pointing to the jokes about guillotines. Those are more prevalent, refer to actual historical events (the terror following the French revolution) and connect to an actual ideological current within left wing thought that is not a joke – revolutionary violence.


      6. Cam,

        Mostly, I get it and I generally agree. Sometimes the airlock is code for “I am not impressed by you and would appreciate having less of you in my life, please go away”. Sometimes the airlock is code for “given the opportunity, I wouldn’t really need an airlock to get the job done”.

        Airlocks are real things to which few people have access. (we have lots of airlocks here on planet Earth) Helicopters are also real things to which few people have access.

        There are more than a few American politicians and members of the media that have dropped suggestions about “re-education camps” for people of my persuasion. And our current Vice President “joked” sometime last year about killing our former President if she were forced to ride an elevator with him.

        None of this is pushing our civilization in the right direction.

        I favor civilization. I don’t think any of the self-declared firebrands on either “side” knows a single durned thing about building one. Their only demonstrable skill seems to be in tearing one down.

        I think a few moments of reflection before speaking/posting might be worthwhile. The failure mode of clever strikes on an equal basis regardless of politics.

        This Tagline is OFF TOPIC! (as if the rest of the message wasn’t)


      7. Dann, you’re clutching your pearls again. Please stop that.

        Here’s what Harris actually said regarding that elevator:


        Again, these obvious false equivalencies get really really old.

        And btw — if you throw someone out of an airlock on Earth, the most that’s gonna happen is they’re going to be a bit miffed that you tossed them out the door. In stark contrast, thousands of people actually HAVE been killed by throwing them out of helicopters.

        See the difference?

        Liked by 3 people

      8. Oh, and btw — the only people I’ve seen suggestion re-education camps are on the right. If you really believe this is an issue amongst left-wingers, please show us some examples.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Contrarius: Oh, and btw — the only people I’ve seen suggestion re-education camps are on the right. If you really believe this is an issue amongst left-wingers, please show us some examples.

        I haven’t seen any suggestions of that from the left, either. I think a lot of people share my view that not only are re-education camps a bad thing, people who believe in Qanon, Pizzagate, and Coronavirus conspiracy theories are simply not educable. I’ve also come to the conclusion that a lot of the people who would vote for a candidate who brags about — and enacts — an agenda which furthers racism, sexism, misogyny, homo/transphobia, xenophobia, police brutality, and business practices which actually make life worse, both financially and qualitatively, for those same voters, are not educable, either.

        I wish I had more hope that those people were educable. Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way things will get better is by newer, more enlightened generations being born to replace them as they depart this mortal coil. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      10. fixed for bad html

        Dann, the first page of that search is a bunch of far-right websites, all repeating the same false claim.

        A Democrat asks how to deprogram a bunch of conspiracy theorists, says absolutely nothing about camps, and a far-right website insists that he is talking about “re-education camps”. 🙄

        Go read the whole Twitter thread for yourself. He’s asking about the best ways to counter all of the far-right propaganda on the internet.

        Seriously, Dann, I don’t know how many times you’ve done this, where you point truiumphantly to websites saying that they back up your claims, when they don’t. Consider checking first, so that you don’t end up making yourself look so foolish.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. @Dann —

        “Took me 10 seconds.”

        But I wanted to see what YOU would come up with, not what **I** could come up with.

        And — yet again and no surprise — the facts fall far, far short of your claims.

        You should actually READ the webpages you try to use as evidence, you know?

        Start with this one:


        Although the article’s author screams and yells about camps — going so far as to reference death camps, even — the Democrat in question, David Atkins, never once actually endorses camps of any sort. Yet again, it’s all Republican hysteria and projection, with no factual basis.

        No surprise there, of course.

        You know, it would be a lot easier to take you seriously if you’d bother to actually check the FACTS behind all the hysteria that rightwing media tends to sling around so casually. Some of us do actually know how to read, after all.

        Now, you originally claimed that “There are more than a few American politicians and members of the media” who have espoused re-education camps. You’ve only managed to come up with ONE democrat who actually didn’t say anything of the sort.

        Care to try again? Or will you for once just admit that, yet again, your claims have been proven to be fact free?

        (Hint: I’ve found two examples, both of whom were rando commenters on a Twitter thread. Certainly not “American politicians” nor “members of the media”.)

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I did read it. You don’t seem to have, though.

        It’s yet another overwrought piece of rightwing hysteria, and all the author can come up with as “evidence” to back them up is one quote from one random Bernie campaign worker. Hardly the “more than a few American politicians and members of the media” you were touting.

        Keep trying.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. You’ve provided one example, a field organizer contracted by Bernie Sanders’ campaign — not a politician or a member of the media. And the guy is a whackjob who has been criticized for what he said by people on the left.

        “A former Bernie SANDERS organizer forced to leave his post in Iowa last year for incendiary comments made public through a Project Veritas expose is running for a post on the Michigan Democratic Party’s (MDP) State Central Committee, the party’s governing body…

        Activists within the party are questioning whether Jurek qualifies for office based on the party’s Code of Conduct and potential violations of the policy against bullying and harassment. They tell MIRS Jurek is an unhinged “Bernie Bro” who should not be given an official position within the MDP.”


        Do better, Dann. Do better.

        Liked by 2 people

      14. Color me shocked that the right keeps playing whataboutism with false equivalencies while the left actually has the spine to condemn and throw people out when they espouse immoral views.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. However, Cam, basic honesty impels me to admit that dann665 uncovered the long-concealed fact that I am indeed Sir Hugo Drax, the specific billionaire Bond villain played by Michael Lonsdale in 1979, and therefore have the unique distinction of owning my own private Earth-to-orbit launch facilities and aerospace business empire, ergo making it totally reasonable to say that my calling a Susan Ivanova quip “excessive” constitutes a credible and dastardly person threat to… well, somebody.

    Not sure who, exactly, but I’m a Bond villain, so I’ll assign some minions to cause that all make some semblance of sense. This may take time, though. (Fortunately, being a Bond villain frees me from needing believable motives.)

    Anyway, fair cop, gov’.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you people are overlooking the obvious in your attempt to wave away this reckless call for violence.

      Submarines have airlocks too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm!

        The image doesn’t quite work, though. I mean, when you say “throw him out the airlock”, you picture explosive decompression and so on. If you “threw” someone “out” of a submarine airlock, you’d kind of get the opposite effect, right? All that water rushing in just doesn’t produce the same effect somehow….

        Liked by 2 people

  15. “I would also point out that your casual pronoun indifference would be interpreted by some as latent transphobia…if you were a conservative. Just ask Gina Carano.”

    I think dann needs to keeping working on perfection. Probably should read up on what really happened with Carano as well. (Though I understand it’s comforting to believe the propaganda.)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Dann: “I would also point out that your casual pronoun indifference would be interpreted by some as latent transphobia…if you were a conservative. Just ask Gina Carano.”

    Rick declined to guess at your pronouns, since you declined to provide them. It would be insulting if Rick got it wrong, so Rick carefully wrote around the problem, to avoid insult. This is why it’s a sensible idea to provide one’s pronouns if you have an ambiguous name like Dana, or Andy or Dann. Gina, of course, had the opposite approach, and you are free to follow that lead. Just don’t be surprised if people get things wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Technically, Rick probably should have said “he/she/they”, but he (I know Rick is a “he,” or sometimes a “han”) was indeed trying to be polite. He had most people covered with he/she.

      I’m sure the actress Michael Learned got addressed by the wrong pronoun all the time by people who only saw her name and not her person.

      Tracy is another ambiguous name — I’ve known a very girly girl by that name, and a male cop who was literally on the recruiting posters (Chisled McEdifice had nothin’ on him).

      Lots of girls nowadays are being given what were formerly boy’s names, so pronouns aren’t obvious (particularly in writing) even for white cis straight people. And certainly screen names are often of ambiguous gender.

      But right-wingers seem to be having more and more trouble being polite — something they used to be so proud of.

      Pretty sure Southern California is getting some of its power from Nixon and Reagan spinning in their graves.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My cousin has three girls: Melissa, Samantha, and Nicole. They go by Mel, Sam, and Nick. (And Mel married a guy named Max, and their son is Mike….)

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I just want to add that Cam (as is usual with his… sure, let’s call it “proofreading”) has a mistake in the title here.

    Toni wasn’t disinvited from the con. She was only un-GoH’d.

    She’s still perfectly free to attend, her name’s just not on the Discon masthead any more.

    The only person who can disinvite her is herself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Lurkertype

      Toni wasn’t disinvited from the con. She was only un-GoH’d.

      A GoH is specifically invited to attend as the GoH. The disinvitation (or recinding or…) was to attend as GoH.

      This sort of contortionish wordsmithing is irritating. When someone is invited for a specific speaking role and the invitation is withdrawn, it is a disinvitation for that speaking role.

      Now playing – Plaster Caster (acoustic version) by Kiss

      The words of a President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately. – Calvin Coolidge


      1. “When someone is invited for a specific speaking role and the invitation is withdrawn, it is a disinvitation for that speaking role. ”

        It’s a disinvitation to **the speaking role**. It is not a disinvitation to the CON.

        “This sort of contortionish wordsmithing is irritating. ”

        You know what’s REALLY irritating? Your habit of constantly running away from discussions when you’re proven to be factually wrong and/or without supporting evidence for your claims, instead of for once actually admitting to your failures, and then popping up in new discussions as though nobody remembers how you failed in the previous ones.

        But, hey, we all have to live with a little irritation occasionally.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. @Contrarius

        Your habit of constantly running away from discussions…

        You are welcome to the time that I have available to spend on such things. Like most everyone else, I have a lot of different things going on in my life. Some of those other things…including reading SF/F…are occasionally more important.

        Now playing A Glimpse Of Home by Kansas. Monolith is a great album.

        You can take everything a man has as long as you leave him his dignity. – John Wayne


      3. “You are welcome to the time that I have available to spend on such things. Like most everyone else, I have a lot of different things going on in my life. Some of those other things…including reading SF/F…are occasionally more important.”

        It is of absolutely no surprise to me that continuing to spout false and/or unsupported claims would be more important to you than honestly owning up and admitting to your failures. It is, in fact, a very predictable pattern.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. When someone is invited for a specific speaking role and the invitation is withdrawn, it is a disinvitation for that speaking role.

        Dann, come on. That is ridiculous. Just because she’s no longer Guest of Honor doesn’t mean she couldn’t attend the con. This is found in your original wording. ‘That speaking role’ doesn’t mean the entire thing!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Dann lies, water is wet, sky is blue, no update at 11:00.

      Possibly he’d be happier in the spam filter with his brother-in-mendacity, phantom? (Who at least didn’t tack on more words in a .sig than in a comment, IIRC)


      1. “Dann lies, water is wet, sky is blue, no update at 11:00.”

        I’m not willing to accuse Dan of lying, as such. I am perfectly happy to assume that he actually believes the claims he makes, however false or unsubstantiated those claims may be. But I get intensely irritated (obviously) when he repeatedly ducks out of admitting to his errors when they are proven to him, and then comes back to make MORE false and/or unsupported claims as though nobody will remember all those false statements he’s made in the past if he just ignores them hard enough. It’s as though he’s the world’s most oblivious optimist — he keeps on expecting people to take him seriously, when he actually has an impressive (however completely unacknowledged) record of being proven wrong over, and over, and over.

        A person who wants to hold honest debates admits to their errors. Otherwise, there is no reason to respect anything that person says.


      2. Yes, I’m still waiting for Dann to acknowledge that his claim “There are more than a few American politicians and members of the media that have dropped suggestions about “re-education camps” is false.

        I’m not holding my breath, though. All the other times in the past when people have posted evidence that one of his claims was false, he just drops that particular claim and goes on to make other spurious claims.

        It’s almost as if he enjoys wasting the time of the decent human beings who feel compelled to provide evidence disproving his lies. I think there’s a word for that…


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