Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 17, 2014

Festivals Extra: HeroesCon Posts Its Anti-Harassment Policy


Here. What might surprise people to learn is I believe -- and someone correct me if I'm wrong -- that this is their first policy of this kind.

I'm all for this. Kudos to Shelton Drum and his team for working something up during what must be a very busy week. I wish them well in its execution and I wish them clarity in its subsequent evaluation. If there are adjustments coming immediately, I hope they're realtively painless. I also hope for the best outcome in terms of how they might add to this policy in future years and how they might develop other strategies moving forward. That last thing I wish for every show.

Harassment is a very real problem at these shows and in comics more generally. There is egregious, alarming behavior that would horrify any of us were we witness to it, and there is death by a thousand cuts behavior that might escape our attention even as we're knee deep in it. No one should go to comics show, or go to work at a comics show, or basically exist in the world, and be harassed or feel unsafe in any way that can be helped. This can be helped.

I believe reform begins at home. Many of these avenues to harassment are so thoroughly ingrained in the culture of comics that it behooves all of us to look at our own participation in a system that yields this kind of behavior and take steps to self-correct and improve. I don't think it's enough to commit to pointing out where you think other people are getting it wrong -- although that has a place -- and I don't think it's enough to merely weather the storm of public scrutiny no matter how confident you might be in the bottom-line effectiveness of your current strategy. I couldn't tell you who is doing enough and who isn't doing enough, but I feel that every last one of us can do better. I even think it's possible to do so by engaging with possibly detrimental side effects in a way that's respectful of the people that have to make these changes and that people that may feel their effect.

I was impressed a few weeks back with Jonah Weiland's decision to essentially reboot his comments strategy at CBR. I am very happy for this move by Heroes. I hope -- and I expect -- that a myriad of different actions and strategies and re-examinations will follow over the next several months. I believe everyone wants the same thing here, and I think we're stronger and will get there sooner for supporting as many solutions as may get us closer to that ultimate goal.
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink

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