The Great Readercon Harassment Debacle of 2012 has resolved with a statement from the Convention Committee that is an excellent example of how to apologize for mistakes and, more importantly, how to make amends.
When I read the statement, I'd just gotten the new album by Franz Nicolay, Do the Struggle, and a line from the chorus of the magnificent first song seemed oddly appropriate: "The hearts of Boston have a hurricane to answer for."
The hurricane's dying down. The rubble is getting cleaned up. The hearts are strong.
There are lots of things in the statement to pay attention to — ideas that will, I hope, serve as a model for other events in the future, not just Readercon. I was especially pleased to see this among the actions the committee has committed to: "Working with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to train concom members and volunteers in swift, appropriate reactions to observed or reported harassment."
Such actions move Readercon from having passive policies that may (or may not) help in the event of harassment to having systems in place that actively work against the culture of rape and violence. Knowledge and awareness matter: they change how you interact with the world. By taking such a thorough and public stand and becoming a site for education and prevention, Readercon helps chip away at the forces that support and enable intimidation, harassment, and violence.
A few folks have asked if I would reconsider my resignation from the Program Committee, and I've said that while I completely support the new statement and policies, have great respect for the work that went into it all, and look forward to attending Readercon 24, I need, for various reasons, to take at least a year off from participation in the committee. This is as much for emotional reasons as rational ones, and I don't have adequate words to explain why.
For some of what went into creating the statement and new policies, see this post by Rose Fox. Lots of people worked really hard, through difficult conversations and difficult emotions, to make all this happen. We should be grateful to them for doing that work, for putting their words and hearts and minds on the line.
Here's Genevieve's lovely response to the statement.
See you at Readercon next year.