No Arisia 24 for me, buh-bye.
A little after
the increasingly toxic "inner cabal" decided to finally invent
enough excuses to push me out the door, to join the many other
competent workers who had already left in disgust on their own.
[*Note: "IR" indicates "incident response" or "incident report"]
Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2023 21:10:16 -0500 From: "Melissa (Arisia)" <MelissaK@arisia.org> Subject: IRMC following up on incident reports To: *Hobbit* <email@example.com> Dear Mr. [formal-name]: I am writing on behalf of the IRMC regarding 3 incident reports of potential code of conduct violations on your part. One of these reports is from 2 years ago. We had hoped to get to it much sooner but there was a tremendous backlog of incident reports for us to process going into 2023. We are sorry for the delay. The first incident was at virtual Arisia in 2021. It has been reported that you posted an "In memorium" statement regarding Carol London to the official discord which contained ableist language, in specific referring to Carol as wheelchair bound. The second incident also involved ableism and occurred at Arisia 2023. It has been reported that a registration volunteer asked for your ID and you initially refused to present it insisting that the volunteer could see who you were. When the volunteer noted that they could not see you, you told them to wear glasses and then asked them what was wrong with their eyes. The third incident occurred at Arisia 2023 at the Geeky Belly Dance show. It is reported that one of the dancers accidentally tripped on stage near some of the lighting equipment and after the show, you berated the dancer for putting the equipment at risk of damage, even though it was confirmed that the equipment was fine. It is IRMC policy that we speak with the person who is being reported to get their perspective on incidents before making decisions regarding disciplinary actions. We would like to hear from you about all three of these at your earliest convenience. If we do not hear from you by Sunday March 19th we will proceed without your input. Sincerely, Melissa Kaplan, IRMCMaybe if they didn't spend so much time overreacting to supposed "incidents" in excessive and burdensome ways, they wouldn't have such a "tremendous backlog" year to year. I refuted all of this the same evening.
Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2023 22:55:05 -0500 To: MelissaK@arisia.org Subject: Re: IRMC following up on incident reports From: firstname.lastname@example.org (*Hobbit*) None of those are as you have evidently heard them. 1> In the "in memoriam" channel, I had followed a request from Lisa Hertel to copy a post of hers to the "announcements" channel. I took her words EXACTLY, not realizing that she had later *changed* her own original post and then never told me about it so I could update the Announcements posting. It got updated later, but only after there was a complaint. NOT MY FAULT. Nonetheless, I had to waste a couple of hours of my time trying to explain all this at the time, and thought the matter long since settled. 2> I did not refuse to present anything, I always expect to present ID at Reg anyway, and I had no idea that one of the people I was talking to had a particular type of vision difficulty so I was a little confused until that was clarified to me. I accepted the enlightment with what I thought was good grace. 3> I did not "berate" any of the bellydancers. I was concerned for her welfare and was basically back there to apologize for the placement of the lights on the stage in the first place, because the entire stage itself was not in what we considered the "normal" position requested from the hotel -- forcing us to have the lights on the rear of the deck instead of down on the floor behind it. I made sure everyone and everything was okay; things could have been a lot worse. Someone clearly misinterpreted my wanting to check up on them. Conclude what you want, but I call bullshit on all of it. It is this kind of distorted flow of so-called information and the perpetual toxic blame game that is going to continue pushing well-meaning volunteers out of the organization. You'll perhaps notice that so far I still have maintained my faith in the viability of Arisia, amid a sea of doubt among friends who I know well and trust. Despite many of them having already parted ways with Arisia, I've been hanging in and and busting my hump to try and do my little part of the con. _H*... which last point Melissa had now actively jeopardized.
Nobody never responded to this for quite a while, so I figured that was it, I was done with them and they could ghost me all they liked. Arisia has some kind of rule that volunteers with standing IRs against them cannot work on the conventions. So now that I was evidently in that state, I would not be willing or able, let alone requested, to give them any of my bandwidth.
Finally, in late June, a decision got handed down. A one-year ban on volunteering, with the specious excuse of my "pattern of ableist behavior" given. They likely knew full well that they would be permanently severing ties by issuing this crocked-up nonsense. Within minutes of receiving the email I had unsubscribed myself from several staff-related mailing lists, and would have nothing further to do with their petty context-distortion and word-policing.
And you know what? It's kind of a relief. It's not just that I can save the extra thousand-dollar-plus expenditure year to year. I really just don't know most of the core crew anymore, and some of the few old-guard folks I do still know have expressed their own doubts about the organization's future viability in general. Arisia has been in a precipitous downhill slide for a while, even if I've still been okay with being part of the annual on-the-ground rescue efforts just for the operational challenge. The only thing I'll really miss is the opportunity to help the few people left in that community who I still actually care about, and maybe jockeying big box-trucks through Boston traffic. As entertaining and productive a thirty-plus years it's been with that con, it is now dead to me, and the only "Arisia '24 pic" appropriate for this year might simply be the 🖕 middle-finger icon as it all rapidly recedes in the rear-view mirror.