Dear (Jackass) Convention Attendee, or, Things Not To Do In Public

Dear Jackass,

As you’re aware, I recently attended Readercon 22, and had a fantabulous time. There were readings and meals with friends and books bought and conversations had and panels attended and it was all lovely. Well, nearly all, because of course, there was you. What could you have done, you wonder? At a convention for the literate and the literati, what could any attendee have done which was so terrible as to end up in this open letter to asshats everywhere? Perhaps you think it was nothing, but these moments spring to mind:

  • In a panel about print vs ebooks, you, sitting in the audience, told the panel that you’d written a novel (as had many in attendance) but that you’d also illustrated it yourself, and tried to sell it to publishers with the insistence that your illustrations be used. All right, that’s a bit short-sighted, but I could have ignored that. Your foolishness isn’t anyone’s problem but your own. However, when a panelist suggested you look into indie presses, your response was, “Which one, specifically, will publish my book?” No one can tell you that, dear. You need to query like the rest of us.
  • You left your cellphone on during panels. Loudly. With a cute custom ringtone so we were well aware that you let your phone ring more than once.
  • You announced that ebooks would never be as good as print because “ebooks can’t have pictures”, that anthologies which offered “shared rights” would never ever pay out, that you should be considered an expert on your field because three years ago you worked at one place where some people who did know what they were talking about could have been found, and otherwise spouted off a variety of “facts” which were merely your uninformed opinions.
  • In the panel on women writers in science fiction, you boldly went where no one else dared to go, by telling the panel they should have “put more effort into it and gone the extra mile” for the panel attendees by creating an “annotated bibliography” of all the writers they were suggesting we read. That was bad, but that wasn’t as bad as …
  • The panel you moderated, where you announced that white men (of which there were two on the panel, from two different countries, and with very different backgrounds) had no right to speak on your panel, which you enforced by interrupting everything they said. To further your point, you only allowed comments (there were no questions) from your friends, who you’d seeded into the audience, and who each in turn repeated exactly what the other had said before her. You didn’t “moderate” the panel, you ran it like the platform it clearly was, which is to say, your platform, for your ideas, and no one who disagreed was allowed. That, I thought had to be the most Jackass moment of the panel, but no I was wrong …
  • The winner of “Biggest Jackass of Readercon 22” goes to the same panel moderator, who turned up at one of her panelists’ signings the next day, along with one of her friends from the audience, to berate the man in public for every failing she hadn’t gotten a chance to mention the day before. His biggest failing, which you repeatedly mentioned, was the fact that he was a white man. An accident of birth, for which you could never forgive him. You insisted on continuing to argue at him, no matter how quietly he suggested that you two discuss this at a more appropriate time, or how politely he mentioned that a line was forming behind you of people who wanted their books signed, until the people in line started to complain.

So, Dear Jackass, I can only hope you didn’t realize your behavior was rude, selfish, insensitive, racist, or sexist. I’ll be at Readercon 23, and I think it’s best for everyone if we don’t see you there.

5 thoughts on “Dear (Jackass) Convention Attendee, or, Things Not To Do In Public

  1. Oh, dear. Unbelievable. I’ve had a few runs in with these kinds of people whilst communicating with writers and publishers, but luckily they had few and far between. The majority are helpful and supportive, yet there always a few whom seem to think they are superior to us mere mortals. Funny thing is i couldn’t recall their names. They don’t seem to last long.

  2. Wow…that sounds like a lot of jackassery. I’m sorry you had to go through it!

  3. Ha! I saw your tweet while you were there about the jerk moderator and wondered what was up with that… wow. What a tool shed. I mean there are always one or two at a conference in the audience, but in positions of supposed control and/or power? Yiiiiikes.

    But hey. Awesomeness abounds elsewhere, at least. Just… gargh!

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