Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End (Part 3 of 5)

Thursday , 17, December 2015 15 Comments

Defining the “Safe Space”

Group silence can be very noisy. A useful tactic in a mass cover-up of unpleasantness is for the participants to become as loud as possible…about something else.

Ed Kramer’s molestation news was generating all sorts of media attention in 2013, but when John Scalzi, president of the SFWA, launched his personal Convention Policy and refused to be the Guest of Honor at any convention that lacked such a policy, there was something conspicuously missing from his demand.

“So, I’ve decided something. I am often asked to be a Guest of Honor or a participant at conventions, which is nice. I also have a number of friends and fans who go to conventions, which is nice too. When my friends and fans go to conventions, I would like them not to have to worry, if they are skeeved on by some creep at the convention, that the convention will take the problem seriously. I would also like them to be able to know how to report the problem, should such a situation occur.” – John Scalzi

He linked to numerous examples of policies from various conventions that he thought were acceptable, and not one of these policies attempts to prevent, or even mention, the problem of pedophilia at conventions. Thus, things like Ed Kramer’s known, eyewitnessed, documented behavior, of having children in his hotel room during the convention he founded (Dragon*Con), is never addressed in the numerous policies.

These policies provide no vague umbrella that could even conceivably address child rape, but instead itemize:

“offensive verbal comments about gender, sexuality, impairment, physical appearance, body size, race or religion
showing sexual images in public spaces.

Discussion or images related to sex, pornography, discriminatory language or similar is welcome if it meets all of the following criteria: (a) organisers have specifically granted permission in writing; (b) it is necessary to the topic of discussion and no alternative exists; (c) it is presented in a respectful manner, especially towards women and LGBTQIA people; and (d) attendees are warned in advance in the programme and respectfully given ample warning and opportunity to leave beforehand. This exception does not allow use of gratuitous sexual images as attention-getting devices or unnecessary examples.”

Furthermore, the most detailed policy that Scalzi found acceptable prohibited:

  • intimidation, stalking or following
  • photographing or recording someone without their permission
  • sustained disruption of talks or other events
  • uninvited physical contact
  • uninvited sexual attention

And even addressed problems non-white attendees of geek events face, including

  • white people critiquing their cosplay costumes without being asked
  • being expected to be an authority on non-white characters in various shows or comics
  • being talked down to or assumed to be less knowledgeable about topics being discussed.

Despite such attention to detail and its careful address of numerous potential offenses and crimes against a person, not one of the policies Scalzi cited as acceptable had a single prohibition against pedophilic acts, including acts of enticement.

For simplicity, review the brief outline of the shorter policy that Scalzi references, from Wiscon: “Harassment is generally any behavior that annoys, alarms, or threatens another person or group. This includes unwanted physical contact, following someone around a public area without their consent, or threatening to physically attack someone. If you approach someone and they tell you “no” or to leave them alone, you must do so and have no further contact. If you fail to honor their response, they may have a legitimate complaint of harassment.”

A Disturbing Loophole

All of this noise, to prevent annoyance, alarm, the feeling of threat and unwanted or uninvited contact. Not one word to prevent child molesters from “accepting” the invitation of a child. To the contrary, from the point of view of a practicing pedophile, the various “safe space” policies cited by Scalzi both endorse and enable adult-child relationships. Now, that may seem like a strong statement from silence, but it really isn’t, if you can, for a moment, think like a predator.

Samuel R. Delany’s case in favor of pedophilic relationships was laid out in a long interview with Will Shetterly and is as follows:

“Many, many children—and I was one of them—are desperate to establish some sort of sexual relation with an older and even adult figure.”

“I think we have to be willing to ask people did it hurt or did it feel good, and start from there—and not penalizing people for going after what feels good, even if it makes others hurt, at least in the investigative phase.”

“Here is a quickly thought out example and by no means complete:

• CONSENT
• PAIN or PLEASURE
• LENGTH OF TIME BETWEEN THE ACTS ENTAILED AND THE PRESUMED VICTIMS ASSESSMENT THAT HARM WAS DONE
• FEAR AND COERCION
• THREATS OF LATER HARM

And all of these should be weighted differently at different ages.”

Read that again. Delany’s allowable pedophilic acts are explicitly in harmony with the Scalzi Safe Space policy – no fear, no coercion, no threats…consensual, pleasurable contact only.

In other words, a pedophile with the Delany mindset is given carte blanche under the Scalzi-endorsed code to attract children “desperate to establish some sort of sexual relation with an…adult figure” for invited sexual and physical attention.

“Why? Because I want my friends and fans to be able to come to a convention and feel assured that the convention is making the effort to be a safe place for them.” – John Scalzi

Scalzi’s desire for his friends’ and fans’ safe place becomes a nightmare if just one of those friends or fans happens to be a molester like fellow SFWA member Ed Kramer, who attracted children to his hotel room at the conventions he ran.

You value what you protect, and Scalzi’s “Safe Space” policy affords protection to the pedophiles in SF, both known and unknown, and their accomplices.

Scalzi clearly can’t take responsibility for the private actions of all of his associates. After all, following his own public scandal following his infamous “I am a rapist” essay, Scalzi himself turned to radio personality Jian Ghomeshi of the CBC to set the record straight. Ghomeshi was later arrested and charged with seven counts of sexual assault, and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, against a total of six women, and now faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. It is doubtful that Scalzi would have enlisted Ghomeshi’s public relations assistance had he known that he might turn out to be an alleged predator.

However, that’s the point. With all the disturbing details of the Kramer case, and a fandom that organized detailed, pseudostatistical reports and shunnings whenever one of their own committed the fannish crime of writing cruel things about books and calling one another names, the creation of “safe spaces”  that nonetheless omitted any overt or implied prohibition to potential child predators, is at best, a lazy mockery.

No. Not lazy. Negligent.

Full Series

15 Comments
  • mistaben says:

    Blisteringly well-done.

  • […] DANIEL CHAPTER THREE. The third installment of Daniel’s Castalia House blog series “Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End” is a series of nonsequitur sophistries constructed for the purpose of smearing John […]

  • […] (Castalia House) Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End (Part 3 of 5) — “All of this noise, to prevent annoyance, alarm, the feeling of threat and unwanted […]

  • MrA is MrA says:

    Now you’ve gone and done it. Scalzi will chastise you mightily from behind a Twitter block for this effrontery. And he won’t care what you think. So there!

  • Daniel says:

    Believe it or not, this really isn’t about John Scalzi,as we will see in the next installment. He just happens to be the most prominent leader in what amounts to a 65-plus year culture of abuse. Scalzi could repent of all the errors in judgment today, and the problem would still be there.

    Stay tuned…

  • Kull says:

    Judging by comments in 770 this entire series of articles is being written off as a politically motivated stunt. And that is only when it is addressed at all. I have not made a proper survey there, and I don’t intend to, so if someone can prove otherwise I would be grateful. I would love to be wrong. I understand we are in the midst of a long and tiresome culture war but I would think the safety and health of children would be a common ground. Let’s say for argument that these posts represent gross exaggerations and facts taken out of context. In those circumstances the situation still needs addressed. And it isn’t being addressed. Am I wrong? Can someone point to a link? I work at an institution that serves the public, including kids. Aggressive, deliberate, and unequivocal action is taken to ensure that children are safe there. There are no gray areas. There is nothing up for debate. People here are mandated to report anything whatsoever that even remotely smacks of child abuse. These policies are clear and public, thus parents know that the institution is committed to their child’s safety. Who would want their child to go to a science fiction convention after reading these articles? Even if it is exaggerated, there is still a core issue that needs addressed. Kramer’s crimes were real. Fandom can dance around Delany’s quotes all they like. But we are talking about actual crimes here. Wouldn’t you want to just come out swinging? If I was at the helm of SFWA or a fandom big shot I would be hitting this hard. Yes, there have been grave mistakes. Noted. And never, never, never again. Not on my watch. There is no “make good” for the victims but at least they can know that their suffering has shed light on the problem and no one else will suffer. Does that not make sense? Why would people not go that route? Besides tribalism, the only reason one wouldn’t go that route is frankly too vile to think about. And its the type of charge that shouldn’t be thrown around lightly. We all enjoy it when the other side takes a knock but this is far beyond that. I sincerely want to be wrong.

    • Daniel says:

      Yeah…about it being “a politically motivated stunt.” That is just more “noisy silence.”

      When they attack this thesis, the real question is what…and who…are they defending?

      There is no common ground with the pedophilia culture. Stay tuned.

    • nathan says:

      Of course the con crowd refuses to acknowledge this series. They refused to acknowledge Requires Hate until she got inconvenient.

  • Destryrides says:

    This sounds like someone has a personal vendetta going against Scalzi. The policies listed that presumably leave a “loophole” for pedaphilia also do not address physical assault, shooting people or any other criminal acts I can think of. Why not? Because unlike the behavior he does explicitly prohibit, they are clearly crimes and therefore require no policy. Are you suggesting that assault and battery, attempted murder or rape are permissible at these conventions because the policy does not specifically prohibit them? As far as I’m concerned his policies are just fine and anyone that requires a written policy to understand that pedaphilia is not permissible has serious problems.

    • Daniel says:

      One massive problem with your objection: the safe space policy specifically addresses criminal acts.

    • Kull says:

      Getting into the specifics of the policy evades the larger question about fandom. Under normal circumstances no one would expect that a business or venue would need to explicitly state that child abuse is not permitted. But with fandom’s shameful history one would think that its self appointed and elected leaders would take a strong, public stand. Whether or not Vox Day has a grudge against Scalzi is irrelevant in the bigger picture. Just because Bob Woodward is a democrat it doesn’t mean that Nixon was innocent. The messenger is irrelevant when discussing hard facts. Interpretations are another matter. But if this blog can conclusively demonstrate that SFF fandom is tarred by infiltration by pedophiles then they are doing a service, whether or not Vox Day is a jerk. I only know three things about Scalzi. Vox Day hates him. He is an author. And he is a prominent member of the SFF scene. I don’t read Scalzi’s blog, I read Vox’s irregularly, and I am not on social media. I have no dog in this fight. I hope both Day and Scalzi lead long fulfilling lives. Neither ever did anything to me. But I will be reading the remainder of these posts and I will be drawing my own conclusions. If there proves to be a real problem, which it certainly seems to be the case, I hope that people will take steps to eradicate a culture that may contribute to harming children. I am blessed in that nothing happened to me as a kid but I have met abuse survivors. I wouldn’t wish their baggage on my worst enemy. I am reading with an open mind as should everyone else.

    • Zimriel says:

      Run, rabbit; run!

  • Kramer vs. Kramer says:

    A lot of these predators are already excluded by law from any convention with children in attendance simply because as registered sex offenders they’re not allowed to be near children.

    But that assumes that the sexual libertines that run almost all of fandom want to enforce age of consent laws.

    That cultural problem also makes any codes of conduct very difficult to enforce.

    If I ever heard a rumor that someone in an organization I was part of was a pedophile the first thing I’d do is look him up in the sex offenders registry. If he was in there he’d be out of the organization, or I’d quit the group if it was unwilling to expel him.

    If convention and fan club organizers would just follow that rule they wouldn’t need to posture about “safe spaces”, the space would be safe.

  • […] third part of the series, “Leaders in Silence,” takes aim at conventions’ anti-harassment policies. Eness quotes from a boilerplate document, […]

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