Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Skepchick named the wrong man

(EDIT: A few people have suggested this person was actually Robert Dennis. Because Colanduno hadn’t sounded sure when he gave me Cody’s name, I told him to get bak to me immediately if it was in fact someone else. When I heard nothing for six hours, I went ahead with the name he gave me.)

Then later:
(Same edit: crossed out in case this is actually Dennis.)
It is enough to note that the Skepchicks waited a whole six hours before blasting someone on the internet for abusing them. That is self-restraint as yet unheard of!

The pertinent details seem to have arrived via this commenter:
Melissa September 2, 2013, 10 pm
Sorry I’ve been traveling & I’m very tired. But I feel I have some pretty relevant info I’d like to put out there. My boyfriend and I were at Dragoncon and went directly to Dragoncon management to find out what happened with the Skepchick table. We spoke with Sara McKorkendale, Information Services & Tables and Robert “Bobby” Dennis, Senior Director. We believe Bobby was the same person who had told Rebecca & Amy they were breaking the rules because he used the same wording with us regarding his partner/boss Chairman Pat Henry as the person who we “DO NOT WANT TO HAVE GET INVOLVED” So to be clear, it was not David Cody.
Anyway Bobby told us specifically they broke the rules because their merch wasn’t logoed. He also claimed all merch profits must go to a nonprofit org.
We politely pointed out the rules do not state that absolutely everything must be logoed and we quoted the rule. “You can sell logo merchandise from your organization and other items made exclusively for & by your club, band or organization”
Right from the start Bobby was unnecessarily defensive, belligerent and rude to us. However, Sara did acknowledge the error on their part as far as the wording and they would be more clear on their wording next year.
We then took a look around and noticed other tables in that area that were selling non-logoed items and books whose proceeds were not going to any non profit (unless you count the author’s pocket as a non profit). So the crux of the issue was the arbitrary interpretation of their policy and very unprofessional manner handling the situation. I don’t blame Amy or Rebecca at all for leaving after talking to this asshole. I would too.

To this there was the reply:

Will I wish there were some pictures floating around of the fan booths that could demonstrate how arbitrarily this rule was applied.

Amy then states her case:

Amy  September 3, 2013, 3 pm
I purchase vendor booths and tables for my art all the time. I also get free tables at conventions very often due to my participation. I am happy to do whatever is required of me depending on the situation. I am not out to break any rules. IN THIS CASE, I had participated and had my art available for sale on the Skepchick Fan table at Dragon Con for 4 years in a row. I also participated in the Skeptrack during that time both on stage and off. I helped with vaccine clinics and other promotional events tied to the Skeptic Track and the con. There was no reason for me to assume this year would be any different. I was there to promote the Skepchick Blog Network and to encourage critical thinking and to help promote Cosmo Quest. BUT, however you want to slice it up, this year we were treated very, very rudely, unnecessarily. If I had thought I had to be in the vendor room ALL OF A SUDDEN after four years of participating in the EXACT same way, I would have certainly considered doing that, or simply not attended or attended and not lugged all my art with me. At least I would have been given an opportunity to make a decision .
I find it so disheartening that so many self-proclaimed “skeptics” are happy to ignore or invent their own facts just so they can hate us and assume that we have the worst intentions, regardless of the situation, no matter what we do. You people are awful (you know who you are) and your unbridled hate and cynicism, if left unchecked will ruin what is left of the skeptic community. Skeptics should want to HELP other people and help make the world a kinder, more just place otherwise the movement is nothing more then self-congratulatory I-figured-out psychics-aren’t-real BS. And if THAT is what it is going to be about, then I can certainly find better things to do with my time and other things to promote with my art.
Melanie states the core issue:

Melanie September 3, 2013, 4 pm [...]
The point is this: They were targeted and verbally abused. That is a serious issue. That is THE issue here. They aren’t playing the victim. They were targeted. There isn’t a line to cross in regard to the rules that puts them at fault for being targeted and verbally abused. That is solely the fault of the people targeting and verbally abusing them. Period. They don’t deserve to be targeted and abused for breaking rules. 

Let's ask some questions.

Was the Skepchick table targeted?

Yes. Skepchicks received a complaint specifically about them. Presumably from a vendor at a paid table.

Was Skepchick verbally abused?

Yes. It's likely that words were said.

Were other fan tables breaking the rules as stated?

Yes. It's a reasonable assumption that someone else was breaking the poorly written rules.

Now this is out of the way, let's move on to the more pressing questions.

Does everyone hate Skepchick?

No. The only person blinded by rage is Watson. She's the one that immediately dashed to Twitter with her issues, she's the one that named names that turned out to be incorrect, she's the one that enlisted a posse of males to find the guy that spoke to her.

Was Skepchick treated unfairly?

No. Here's the thing about conference policies that nobody reads - they are created to protect people at the conference.

The purpose of crafting something like a harassment policy is to protect everyone from harassment.

Similarly, the fan table policy at DragonCon was crafted to protect vendors.

You piss off the vendors, you're done. 

Skepchick's description of the situation as the worst thing since the last uniquely horrible thing that happened to them is quite ridiculous.

Why did the vendors let the other fan tables get away with it?

Who knows, and who cares?

Sometimes getting asked for a coffee while sharing an elevator is the creepiest event of all time, and in other circumstances with different people it's the beginnings of a Meg Ryan movie.

The important thing to remember is that if a guy is creepy in an elevator, he doesn't have the following excuses:

  1. "I've asked women in elevators for coffee before, and they were cool with it."
  2. "Other people are hooking up in elevators here."
  3. "The rules say elevator chats are cool."
He must understand that the situation might be a little subjective and that he's got to leave the elevator.

When you're privileged and you break the rules, sometimes there is only one thing you can do.

Shut up and listen.

... and perhaps apologize to David Cody.


  1. "When you're privileged and you break the rules, sometimes there is only one thing you can do.

    Shut up and listen.

    ... and perhaps apologize to David Cody."

    Very nice, thank you!


  2. Surly Amy: "If I had thought I had to be in the vendor room ALL OF A SUDDEN after four years of participating in the EXACT same way,..."

    - ugh, "ALL OF A SUDDEN" - what is this backwoods patois? What does that even mean? If something happened gradually, would she say "PART OF THE SUDDEN"? I think all that tattoo ink has somehow made its way to her brain and inflicted some damage.

    1. I never thought that I would defend Amy, but "all of a sudden" is a common idiom used in the U.S. to describe a, suddenly happened, unexpected event.


    2. Indeed it is, but it's like "shouldn't of", or "I could care less", or "cutting off one's nose to spiderface" - educated people don't use it.

    3. Yeah, there are a lot of good reasons to make fun of Surly Amy, but this is like one of the three things that isn't. It's a normal thing.

      Throw a rock and wherever it lands you'll find a better thing to reference making Amy look bad - literally the chances of you missing were so infinitesimal NASA mathematicians are using it as a case study.