unquietsoul5 (unquietsoul5) wrote in vericon_fans,


The July 17th post regarding the announcement by Jason, the con-chair for Vericon, in this community has produce a large amount of discussion within the comments section of that post (53 as a few minutes ago).

If you were involved in this thread early on, you might want to go back and see what Jason has said in response to the feedback you have given him.

I'm just the community maintainer here, food coordinator for the convention in '05 and '06 for the consuite/green room, and occasionally the 'messenger' who passes along information.

Because threading becomes complex here on LJ when comments get numerous, I would suggest that folks who have new responses to the announcement might want to make additional posts and comments outside of the ongoing extension of the 17th's post to ensure that is seen and read. Additionally after a few days folks often fail to follow any one specific message's threading (and LJ has a nasty tendency to forget to send out notifications of comments randomly). This will help what you have to say be more likely to be seen and responded to.

I'd also ask that folks try to stay somewhere near on topic of Vericon Guests, Policies, Planning, Problems etc. and not onto tangents that are rather far or completely off topic. (I think this is the only time I've ever had to ask that of folks as moderator, and the last couple of days is the most traffic this community has seen since it was created).


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Hi all.

For those who may be curious as to why there are those who are upset over the selection of Orson Scott Card as Vericon's Guest of Honor, here are links to his two best known essays on lesbian, gay, and bisexual people:

"The Hypocrites of Homosexuality"


"Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization"


He talks about these issues in many other columns, but these are the two that center on them.
Thank you for passing along these links, it may help folks better understand some of the problems involved.

civic_oracle said everything that needed to be said on the previous thread.
I agree that most of the things he said were important, but wanted to make sure that folks got a chance to see both sides of the discussion who had not yet heard it, and so that if there were anyone else who felt that they had more they wanted to articulate on the subject that it would be seen by all involved.

The quality, content and quantity of the voices on the subject is likely to be important to all, as will any and all solutions, changes, or ideas that may be presented and discussed.

By my statement, I meant not to cut off further debate, but merely to note that at least some of us who do not comment further do so not because we are convinced by Jason's statement, but because civic_oracle has ablely expressed our views.
I've attended the last three Vericons and have really appreciated the great people and welcoming attitude of HRSFA (even to Yalies!) and have entreated many others to come.

But not this year. The aspect which is most harmful about this is that the decision was made with cognizance of his homophobia. That trivialization, that homophobia is something which is trivial enough that you can ignore it if the guy's a popular enough writer is the most pernicious aspect of this, as it seems extremely unlikely that someone who was as actively racist, anti-semitic, sexist, xenophobic, etc would have been invited.

See you in two years.

--James Stuart
Of course, I'd be happy to attend this year if OSC was uninvited. I realize that you are in a very difficult position, and short-term, it would be embarrassing and awkward, and force you to get another guest. But it both has the weight of being the moral thing to do, and practically, will probably cause far less harm in the long run for HRSFA and Vericon.

If Vericon were to run into trouble booking guests/financial shortfalls due to this, I'm sure myself, would be more than willing to chip in and make extra efforts to recruit more people to come.
Even if you totally agree and don't feel that anything more needs to be said, please make some comment, even if it amounts to 'I agree'. And encourage your friends to comment as well. If change is going to be effected here, we're going to need to come off as more than a vocal minority.
I attended Vericon for 4 years when I was a college student in the area.

If Card had been invited any of those years I would not have attended.
Well, actually, I think we would all like to know just how many people have issues with Card, and more importantly what kind they are--who would either protest or not go on principle, and who would go or not go but be unhappy at the Con because of Card, for example. (I suspect that the obvious answer of "take a survey" rather than the current answer of "conchair gets and responds to email, people discuss" would be impractical.) You were at Boskone with him, though--did he actually bring up the subject or speak out about gays himself, or did people protest/attack him?
From your comments on the other post I can see that you don't think the idea of trying to make this a non-issue is a good one, because it's impossible to separate a man from his views, which is a good point (though he apparently tries to keep this separation himself, not that he doesn't write his articles but at least doesn't make personal attacks). What of people who don't know that Card has spoken out against homosexual marriage, or run across homophobic implications (other political views aside) in his books, and who think Ender's Game is great but would have it ruined for them by being made aware of this? (And how many of them are there? Obviously they won't be represented here, so much.) Whether he is bigoted or not (and I have read the articles, but I don't like name-calling), is it either necessary or constructive or anything but needlessly unpleasant to point out others' bigotry to people ignorant of it? If Vericon keeps Card as Guest of Honor, do you think it would be better or worse to have the BGLT panel?
It seems to me, also, that people who have unpopular views (and though I'm definitely in support of people having the kinds of relationships they are all happiest having together, I do recognize that this viewpoint offends some people and that it's unfair to go around attacking them for being wrong if they don't attack me first--so really, Card's view seems worse because it is unpopular) and do not express them are practicing tolerance, and deserve censure even if their views become known. Card /has/ expressed his views, which I hope is the difference--people attack him because they feel that they have already been slighted by him. But supposing neither politics nor homosexuality was brought up by or with regards to Card during the entire con--would that be so bad? If I had written something offensive to a group of people that then ostracized me, I would think I was being met with intolerance, and would feel compelled to defend my views rather than let things go, or listen to what they thought.
To clarify, I wasn't at Boskone, and it was in large part because Card was there.

And frankly, I don't think we should leave people in ignorance. Some will still enjoy his work -- hell, I still enjoy his work. I do enjoy the author while condemning the man. But I don't feel that Vericon has the luxury of making this a non-issue when they have chosen to specifically single out Card for this honor. Whether the organizers believe it or not, when you go out of your way to center your convention upon a specific guest, particularly one who has expressed such reprehensible views, you take the entire person and all his baggage.

Let me be very clear: this man is not merely against gay marriage. He does not merely feel that homosexuality is immoral. He has called for the OPEN, LEGALLY ENFORCED PERSECUTION of homosexuals. I can handle conservative authors, but I cannot handle someone who would see me jailed rather than let me be, openly, who I am.

It is necessary for bigotry to be understood. It is necessary for bigotry to be confronted. Silence implies approval, and ignorance helps no one, and the attitude that it would be better to just allow the community to remain in ignorance for the sake of preserving some peace is one that I find frankly appalling.
The sad fact is that most of America believes in the open, legally enforced prosecution of homosexuals.

(Apologies for stating the obvious, or for making incorrect statements, both of which I might do, unintentionally, in the following momentary tangent.)

Is that changing? Yes, it is. In my parents' generation, gender and sexuality was hardly a mainstream issue. Now it's very much a matter in the public consciousness, and we're starting to legalize gay marriage, we're starting to see openly gay people in walks of life (including politics) where they couldn't have been successful a generation ago.

But we've still got a long way to go. One of the big reasons for this is that anti-gay sentiment receives support from many religious authorities (unlike, say, racism, which hasn't had any support from religion since the '50s or earlier). People are growing up being taught that homosexuality is just as sinful as sex before marriage, etc., and just as sinful as many transgressions that more progressive people also agree are immoral.

So you've got a lot of anti-gay people whose bigotry and morality are tied together-- their moral leaders are teaching them to be good, for the most part, but are also teaching them to consider homosexuality as wrong. This isa difficult phenomenon to combat--you've got some very well-intentioned, very misguided people out there, who believe that by punishing homosexuals they're saving souls. (Anti-GLBT sentiment is also bolstered by far less forgivable sentiments: our fear of those who are different from us, and our fear of changes to our traditions. But the fact remains that many people are anti-gay for reasons that they believe to be moral ones.)

The fact is that nearly half of all Americans are either misguided or fearful enough of homosexuality to believe that same-sex relationships should be illegal (43% by a recent Gallup poll, I think that's a record low). Personally, I have a much stronger dislike for homophobia that stems from fear (for obvious reasons: I dislike people who allow their fear to cause them to hurt others, while I actually have some respect for people who do terrible things out of a desire to do good). That said, I recognize that anti-gay sentiment from religious conservatives like Card is also more dangerous simply because its proponents believe that they're doing the right thing.

(End of tangent.) Still, even though Card's belief is dangerous to those I care about, making personal attacks on him for holding this belief isn't going to help set things right. I'd even go so far as to say (though I know that many here would disagree with me) that honoring Card's fiction while opposing his harmful beliefs is a good way to foster the kind of understanding between people that will put an end to homophobia. That's what universities like Harvard are for--to bring together people with different beliefs so that they can recognize each others' strengths and realize that what they thought was so terrible about each other wasn't that awful after all.

I honestly hope that some more conservative folks will come to Vericon this year, possibly drawn by Card, see a friendly, positive panel on BGLT issues in scifi/fantasy, and say, "Wow, those people seemed just like me!" Likewise, I hope that some more liberal people will come away from meeting Card with the realization that for all the danger his views present, as a person he's not so bad after all.

Maybe I'm being too much of an idealist here. I'll certainly understand if anyone disagrees with me. But I think, and hope, that having Card at Vericon is the right thing to do.
I've been trying to think of how to address this in such a way that will explain my feelings fully. I'm still not really sure I have it, but I don't want to be seen as ignoring anyone or silently agreeing, here, so I'm going to give this my best shot.

First of all, I don't think the majority of Americans want our persecution. Polls actually show that the majority of Americans support gay rights, gays in the military, and numerous other vital GLBT issues. The marriage question is trickier, but people get oddly prickly about marriage, even when it's discussed in the civil rather than religious context. Thus, if my problem with Card was only that he opposes gay marriage, it would be a non-issue. Lots of people do, for lots of reasons, and it certainly is the stance of his church that gay marriage shouldn't be legal.

Likewise, if Card simply said, 'I feel that homosexuality is immoral,' well, that's his right. And if it were as simple as that, I'd certainly be happy with GLBT panels.

But he has pushed past this, past even the position of the church, as far as I'm aware of it. In OSC's world, I would have two choices: stay in the closet, or go to jail, or God knows what else. I view that as much more disturbing, to the point where I just don't want him near my person. No, I don't think he'll attack anyone randomly, though I do think that the controversy will come up, he won't react well and things may go badly all around, because from what I've heard, I don't believe he responds well to attempts to dialogue about it. (And, honestly, as much as I'm hoping I'm wrong, I'm not sure it will be possible to make sure all the people who want to protest do so peacefully and respectfully.) I also worry that the heated tempers aroused by this issue, on both sides, will lead to conflict that will ruin the congoing experience.

And then, as noted, there's his support for the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and his prejudice against those outside of his church. Not to mention the farce that was 'Empire'. There are plenty of reasons to not like the man and not want him around.

In the end, Vericon should be about fun. It should offer a chance for fans to relax. I, and numerous others, find OSC neither fun nor relaxing. It would be a bit like going to a shuttle launch and running into Fred Phelps protesting against NASA. Now, as I said, I don't expect Card to be the one to bring it up, but in taking him as their GOH, the con com opened a can of worms. It's just not possible to depoliticize something that's so deeply felt by so many. And so the con has turned from fun to politics.

Also, as I said, I feel that making him the GOH is just a different act from inviting him to speak and sign books. If they had invited him to the con as an ordinary guest, well, I'm sure some people would have objected, but the con com chose to give him special attention, place extra scrutiny upon him and give him another honor from a local con after the Boskone controversy of just a couple weeks ago. When you put someone at the center of your con, you CANNOT shy away from the whole man. And frankly, no, I don't think we should honor people despite their more 'unpleasant' qualities; or, rather, I feel OSC goes beyond mere disagreeableness.

I haven't wanted to make this comparison. I've tried very hard not to make this comparison. I STILL don't want to make this comparison. But suffice to say there have been other movements that have advocated the segregation and incarceration of GLBT individuals, and that certainly led to worse things, and no matter if some of their members wrote brilliant (to some) works of SF, I sincerely doubt that Vericon would want to be associated with them, either.
I certainly agree that Vericon shouldn't be about politics. I didn't mean to imply that Orson Scott Card should be invited *because* his views would cause some sort of desired discussion--just that I'd like to think that things will turn out pretty well at Vericon in spite of Card's views.

I understand your concern, though, that conflict might erupt at the convention, and I can see why you might be worried that some of the fun aspect of Vericon will be offset by the presence of someone who'd make you feel less welcome.

In any case, I hope to meet you in less troublesome circumstances--whether at some future Vericon or elsewhere.
I guess it is about time for Godwin's Law, then.
The stats for public opinion on homosexuality are essentially worthless unless you see them broken down by age demographic. Then you see that the baby boomers on up think it's really bad, while the disapproval ratings drop off precipitously as you head toward the teenagers. Sure, averaged out it may equal 43%, but that's by no means steady across the board.

(Sorry, I know that's a little OT for the community, but I wanted to mention it.)
Make that '06 and '07 I was food coordinator...
I missed this when it got started, on account of the community somehow having dropped off my friends list without warning. So I'm a bit late to the party, but I'll just offer my own point of view.

I'm slated to be not just at the con, but on the programming, as usual. I don't intend to drop out because of Card. Do I have a problem with his politics? Yes. Do I wish the con hadn't gotten itself into this situation? Certainly, because now there's no way out that will actually make everybody happy. Do I think it will be "the beginning of the end" for VeriCon? God, I hope not; I'd like to think one misstep shouldn't be fatal for any con, especially when it was accidental. (By no means do I believe Jason et al. did this on purpose, just to piss people off.) So those of you who are planning on boycotting it, I hope you come back in future years, and through your participation help direct the con in a brighter direction. I used to be the guest coordinator; god knows I would have been glad for suggestions of interesting guests who might like to attend.
Yeah, I'm really late into this conversation but I just joined LJ a few days ago.
I have attended each Vericon to date and I will be at Vericon '08. To me, Vericon was a gaming convention. That's what it seemed like that first year and gaming has always had a great presence at Vericon.
I really don't have any interest in an SF GOH. I wouldn't attend the panels, I wouldn't ask for an autograph. If he sits down at a game I'll be happy to play against him (as I have done in previous Vericons).
What I am interested in is going to a nice, small convention and sitting down and chatting with people that I have come to know but very rarely get to see.
I am saddened to hear that some of you have decided not to attend. It is a shame, for the people that keep going back are the ones that add the flavor to the convention, and it just won't feel the same without you there.
At the same time, though, the convention has made its choice. I agree with an earlier post in that, if the convention changes anything at this point, they fall, for then they are no longer the ones in control of the convention.
So, you have one side that can't change and one side that demands change. I, for one, do not believe for an instant that Vericon is hosting Mr. Card out of bias against the LBGT community. I've never seen any bias against anyone while I was attending and I don't believe they would start now.
I would point out though, one thing that is standard among all conventions: If you see or hear something you don't like, you walk away. You don't shout, you don't point, you don't force your hand, you simply walk away, for that group has a right to do what they are doing as well as you do.
Many of you had said you will do just that: walk away. I respect your decision on this, although I am sadend by it. On the other hand, though, Mr. Card is subject to the same rules as the rest of us.
He is allowed his opinion. He can think whatever he wishes. He should not, however, be allowed to voice an opinion that would start an arguement at the convention.
If he is invited as a SF writer, that's what he gets to talk about, not his views on lifestyles, IMHO.
The door has to swing both ways. Those of us who attend the convention are expected to uphold a standard of rules. The guests must adhere to the same standards.