[Do goats "need shoes"?? What says humans do either?]

Capricon gets it wrong, and gets my goat:

Backlash against "policy" that they failed to fight off

I had heard through the virtual-conrunning grapevine that there was a Chicago-based convention that was going "hybrid" and still needed help on the virtual side of things.  I figured I might be able to help out, from the cozy comfort of my superinsulated little domicile and stay out of the single-digit temps we were having at the time.  So I went poking around their website, capricon.org, and found some items in their souvenir book that gave me serious pause about wanting to work for an organization that could go out of its way to 1> be so foot-hostile, and 2> shift blame to the "new hotel".  These are siituations that can be handily rectified with a little education in the right places.  Especially when hotels are by and large hungry for business around this time of year, Jan/Feb, and are well served by not letting ill-founded discriminatory practice get in the way of a weekend's revenue.

While still figuring out if I was going to bring my now-fairly-substantial Zoom/Discord/streaming experience to bear and help them out, I voiced my objections to their policy statements right to the top, with this letter to the conchair and included the division heads that had also been indicated.

Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2022 07:09:59 -0500
To: tori.carnall-hawkins@capricon.org
Subject: Re: [Chair] found in the PDF
Cc: programops@capricon.org, chair@capricon.org

In your "print program guide", on [print] pages 6 and and 9, I found the
disappointing evidence that your team has let yourselves in for arbitrary
bullying by the hotel.  If I was intending to attend a real-life Capricon,
this would be something you would have to deal with.  For my own health
and mobility reasons, I simply do not wear shoes, even in winter.  They're
bad for me, and in fact bad for most people.  Yet there's this pervasive
mythology around "requiring" them, that far too many people have grown up
with and never questioned.  Like a bad religion.

You would do well, when you have some spare time, to read about my
interactions during Arisia here in Boston, which I've worked for over 20
years.  Trust me, I've had to wrestle with this problem quite a bit in
my life, but once the relevant people are made to see reason, they understand
the folly and hostility of discriminating against people over footwear.  And
that's all it is, discrimination, from the Sixties on down, and we're still
living with this disinformation.


Start about halfway down, "Saturday", into Sunday and the "red section".
It took a while, but I eventually received apologies from all of the agencies
involved.  I haven't worn shoes in that hotel for years, and it's occasionally
a bit of a battle when brainwashed people kick up a fuss.  There is absolutely
no reason to kick up a fuss, but people who think they're in charge love
their little power trips.  I work my ass off for the conventions I do, and
I expect a little courtesy about harmless lifestyle variances in return.
On occasion it involves a little conversation with various powers that be
to assure them that I'm just fine as I am, and that's the end of it.

If the hotel is laying this on you, they are violating Rule 1 of your Code
of Conduct right up front.  Harassing anyone about footwear is insulting and
demeaning, and the usual excuses about "safety" or "health" are flat-out
meaningless.  People who prefer to be barefoot know what they're doing, and
are rarely given credit for that.  But con organizations bend over backwards
to accomodate things like pronoun choices?  Something is hugely inequitable
about that.

Naturally, it's far too late this year to fix this.  Someone probably made
the mistake of trying to "ask up front", i.e. during hotel negotiations saying
"some of our fans like to go barefoot, is that okay?" ... to which hotel
management, steeped in the traditional lies and never having reasearched on
their own what the truth is, immediately says "OMG no, everybody has to have
shoes on".  Wrong answer.  The right thing would have been to write 100%
anti-harassment into the *contract*, and get all of the hotel employees
appropriately briefed and educated why choices like this harm absolutely
no one and bring on no risk or liability in either direction.

So this is why, even sitting comfortably in my home here in Boston and happily
barefoot including when out shoveling my snow, I am reticent to even support
the virtual activities of an organization that let itself be pushed around
like that and didn't resist such nonsense right up front.  The more this
happens, the more people are walled off from science *fact*, and that's just
disingenuous to your community.  In light of this, re-read your own Rule 1
carefully and think about how it applies here.  Then, please offer back your
thoughts on what I should be doing this coming weekend.



  I sent this off on Feb 1, and freely acknowledged that with less than a week before con, it was about the last thing they were going to spend any time thinking about.  But for the future, and regardless if I was ever going to truck all the way out to Chicago for one of their real-life cons someday, this seed needed to be planted.

To be fair, I received a fairly reasoned response a little while later.  Despite at least two specific mentions in the program book, they evidently hadn't really thought about barefooting as an issue, and were most likely blindly parroting stuff that had come from the hotel people.  [Which still doesn't excuse it.]

From: Tori Carnall-Hawkins <tori.carnall-hawkins@capricon.org>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2022 12:19:40 -0600
Subject: Re: [Chair] found in the PDF
Cc: Program Operations <programops@capricon.org>

 Thank you for providing some new perspectives on this issue. We have not
had attendees before who brought any strong objections about this policy to
our attention, so it's not something we've been motivated to act on when
picking our battles with hotel contracts. As you note, it is too late to
do anything about it for this year, but we'll definitely take what you've
mentioned here under advisement for the future. We hope you'll be able to
provide some virtual support to the convention this weekend, but understand
if you want to devote your attention elsewhere.
Tori Carnall-Hawkins
Capricon 42 Chair

  In return, I suggested the correct path to make it 100% a NON-issue the next time they did this, through education and refusal to be governed by uninformed ignorance.  As usual, I believe that I speak for a lot of people in this commumity who are otherwise afraid to speak up, having been cowed by years of bad conditioning and blind belief.

So in general, more people need to react strongly to such misguided "policy", and let those who try to establish it know that such statements are unacceptable.  As my experience with Arisia and other cons over the years proves, once people understand that barefooting brings no harmful effects and plenty of good ones, they generally realize the folly of clinging to outdated myths.

_H*   220201

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