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Dragon*Con Official Post: Good Intentions, Bad Situations 
20th-Aug-2012 06:31 pm
Dragon*Con 2
At times, good intentions can lead to bad situations. Dragon*Con has become aware of a potentially dangerous situation involving a self-started project that provides ribbons for fans identifying themselves as people who are able and willing to help another fan in the event assistance of any sort is needed in a difficult situation. While we absolutely believe that the creation of this movement was done with the best intentions to protect fans, we feel that it presents a possibility for a person coming in as a "wolf in sheep's clothing," perhaps luring someone in distress to an even more dangerous situation. Providing a ribbon for someone to wear to give them any type of "official" sanction when no screening has taken place is quite frankly, scary to us. To that end, we have asked the individual to stop providing ribbons for Dragon*Con attendees. We think a lot of our fans and believe strongly in the message that if you see someone in trouble, you should always be willing to help out or get someone who can. We expect no less and you all have never disappointed.

Dragon*Con takes the safety and security of our fans and volunteers very seriously. We have put many things into effect to provide the best environment at the convention, including the badge/room key check during peak evening hours and increase of Atlanta Police presence. 2011 was a great year with fewer problems than ever before and we plan to continue to maintain these same practices, and incorporate new ones as the show grows to make sure that everyone who attends Dragon*Con is as safe and secure as possible.
20th-Aug-2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
You plan to continue to maintain these same practices, except the Back Up ribbons, which were in use during the last convention, which had fewer problems than ever before. Ok.
21st-Aug-2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
Correlation, causation, so on and so forth. To imply that the ribbons were solely responsible for the drop in problems while mentioning nothing of the badge checks and increased security that kept random folks and idle troublemakers last year is not giving D*Con the credit it deserves. I don't agree with their response to the Back-Up Project, but I'm not going to ignore everything they did to make the con better last year.

Edited at 2012-08-21 10:25 pm (UTC)
20th-Aug-2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
I like the Back Up initiative. However, this post makes a very good point. What if someone doesn't know the nature of the program and does think that more trust should be given to those to wear the ribbons - rather than them just being strangers who will want to help if asked? All the program is really saying is, "I won't ignore you."

I can definitely come up with a few scenarios of instigator/hero that would be very dangerous to someone who misunderstood that.
12th-Sep-2012 04:52 am (UTC)
Ed Kramer for example. Ed Kramer getting money from DragonCon for example. Ed Kramer is a pedophile.
20th-Aug-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
What exactly is DragonCon doing to address harassment? Because this right here is solving the wrong problem.
21st-Aug-2012 12:10 am (UTC)
In the second Paragraph:
--We are increasing the badge/room key check at the hotels.
--We are increasing Atlanta Police presence.

If you or anyone else is being harassed, then report it. The hotel staff, Atlanta Police, and our volunteer staff are all there to help.
(Deleted comment)
21st-Aug-2012 12:26 am (UTC)
Are people wearing Back Up ribbons going to be asked to remove them?
21st-Aug-2012 10:56 am (UTC)
Can't, First Amendment applies. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971), wherein the US Supreme Court rules that a person wearing a jacket with "Fuck the Draft" in a public place was free speech and could not be restricted. Hotels are, by law, public places.
21st-Aug-2012 12:38 am (UTC)
If it is taken "very seriously" then why when I was groped in the men's restroom at the Sheraton on Saturday during the MMO party and told a member of security and was given the "Well it happens to women more than men" speech and told "there is nothing we can really do". While at the time I bought it after thinking about it I do not feel it was taken "very seriously" they did not even offer to call for a uniformed officer for me to speak with. I spoke with the director of the MMO track after thinking every thing that could be done had been done and told him what had happened and that I had already reported it to security so he did not have to do anything I am not sure he will remember me talking with him about what happened. I wish I had told him first may be some thing would have been done and minus the speech. I am an eternal member and while I know that does not entitle me to any more privileges (other than the party on Thursday and going through the guest/VIP line during registration) than any other member but the staff member should have respected that I have even more reason not to risk my membership by making up a story and should respect any member regardless of what type of membership they have. This is the reason that I disagree with this post while there is a risk people need all the resources they can get and the vast majority of people at Con would help the wearing of a ribbon is such a small risk that it does not need a response like that, the guy who put his hand on my rear end and put his finger on my anus was not wearing a ribbon
21st-Aug-2012 12:55 pm (UTC)
As a member of the MMO track staff, I believe that if you had brought this to my Director's attention, he absolutely would have taken action (I can't speak for him, but know what kind of stand-up guy he is; he, and the rest of us, take our guests' safety and enjoyment of the event seriously).

I will be wearing a Backup Ribbon while working the con this year, and if you, or anyone else feels harassed or threatened at, near, or during one of our events (or anywhere I happen to be), please reach out to a staffer, and we will act.
21st-Aug-2012 01:05 am (UTC)
Just to be clear -- as per discussion with the Dragon*Con concom, this post will be linked on the Backup Ribbon Project website, as well as on its Twitter feed. We feel it is only fair to Dragon*Con attendees why may have ribbons to know the concom's position on on this. At this point, to our understanding, Dragon*Con will NOT be imposing sanctions on those who wear or distribute Backup Ribbons, nor will the ribbons be confiscated.

The Backup Ribbon Project, after discussion with the Dragon*Con concom, will NOT be targeting its message to any specific con/event. In essence, if you feel there is a need for ribbons at an event, that is all we care about. We do not ask for what event and we do not track that information.

While we appreciate the concerns of the Dragon*Con concom, we believe the value of making the Backup Ribbon Project accessible to as many people as possible outweighs the possible risk of a few bad apples. We are certainly open to discussion on this matter, via our website.

We would also ask that if there is an unfortunate incident of somebody with a Backup Ribbon taking advantage of the situation to please let us know.

Our goal in this is NOT to replace the con's security efforts, but merely to add to it and give fans a way to help each other out.

Thank you!

The Backup Ribbon Project
21st-Aug-2012 01:37 am (UTC)
"We would also ask that if there is an unfortunate incident of somebody with a Backup Ribbon taking advantage of the situation to please let us know."

I believe then the question would then become:

A) How do you figure out who that person was?
B) How do you prevent them from continuing to wear the ribbon?

I don't have answers to that. I'm just posing the logical questions that any resolution would need to entail.

Ultimately, I think it would be more important to make sure attendees know that these are just people, and can be reported like anyone else. That's something that would work best with the cooperation of the con planners. I don't see the ribbon project in an of itself, a threat.

To respond to another comment concern - anyone who escalates something inappropriately (as in, assault) would be seen as an aggressor by the police, so that would deal with itself. Someone playing hero to that extent wouldn't need the excuse of a ribbon to do so. It would however be a good idea to post information on the ribbon site about what is and is not acceptable in terms of the law.
21st-Aug-2012 01:16 am (UTC)
Call me devil's advocate, but I don't think that giving someone a ribbon makes them any more qualified to deal with these situations, and in my opinion could probably make the situations twice as bad. It's not just a wolf in sheep's clothing thing, but also a thing of putting more people in a dangerous confrontation. Some people might mistakenly get a hero complex from wearing the ribbon, and picking a fight with someone who's already harassing people is going to blow the problem up even more. I think it's great to support other people, don't get me wrong, but I don't think the ribbons were really going to make a difference.

Besides, why wear a badge for something that's just a common decency. I think we all need to just keep an eye out individually while we enjoy the con, badges or not. We're all kind of a big Dragon*con family, and we need to help each other out.
21st-Aug-2012 01:24 am (UTC)
the Back Up Ribbon is not intended for "heroes" but "escort to safe places" and to assist anyone accosted to redress their issues through means of authority, or that is how i read it. All dcon is saying is caveat emptor regarding people wearing these ribbons, for they may have slipped you the roofie in the first place. While Hopeing with some degree of personal experience that most people at the Con can step up into that roll to help/assist where needed, Volunteer staff or not.

21st-Aug-2012 01:53 am (UTC)
I am not planning to attend D*C this year. This statement makes me even less likely to attend in future years. A badge and key check and more police presence is not sufficient to keep the con safe. Stamping out the Backup Ribbons out of fear of some hypothetical (have you ever heard of your "wolf in sheep's clothing" happening?) means that D*C will feel less safe and less friendly. Don't go down this path; it will blow up in your face.
21st-Aug-2012 05:18 am (UTC)
This. I'm an SDCC-goer, and I've always said that if I ever happened not to get a badge some year, I'd spend the money on D*C instead... looks like GenCon or PAX will get me now, unless this is handled.
21st-Aug-2012 02:09 am (UTC)
Wow, way to make a fine project seem creepy DragonCon! A group of women decide to back each other up when they see someone getting harassed and that's somehow a threat to the convention? Did you even do any research into the purpose of the Backup Project before you came out and said they were potentially dangerous people?

As someone who has started another fans-supporting-fans project about a decade ago that involved ribbons, I'm horrified to think that *I* might have been considered a shady character by DragonCon.

Badly handled folks, badly handled. Especially right on the heels of the fiasco at ReaderCon.
21st-Aug-2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
I was a supporter of the Backup ribbon project, and am mulling over now in light of their concern whether or not to continue this year as I read this thread, but I wanted to interject that never was I told it was a group of women backing each other up. I saw my role as a male to assist anyone, male/female, who asked if I thought it was safe and prudent to do so, as would my wife and other male/female friends attending the con.
21st-Aug-2012 02:28 am (UTC)
I'm actually surprised this hadn't been addressed earlier. I've never really liked the idea of the ribbons (mostly for the reasons D*C listed above). On the flip side, I've never actually seen a ribbon at the con either, so I don't think D*C has too much to worry about.
21st-Aug-2012 02:30 am (UTC)
So, all this has made me curious about Dragon*Con's harassment policies, since not only am I wondering what kind of structures are in place for harassed congoers outside of the APD and "Staff and volunteers take security very seriously", but I've also heard (as a non-goer but one who used to want to go) about its reputation as a con where the cosplayers are kind of known for not wearing a whole lot of clothing. What I've found (or rather, what I haven't found) is really quite disturbing and makes me very reluctant to go.

From the main D*C site, the only thing I could find that resembled a harassment policy (Because searching the site for "Harassment" or "Unsafe" did nothing) was this line:We reserve the right to ask you to leave the convention and refuse to refund your membership money if you are behaving - in technical terms - like a jerk. and this: Keep all behavior that polite fans would find offensive in public in your hotel rooms, and from the FAQ wiki, under "How do I keep the fanboys away from me?" there's this: Your sexy costume can attract unwanted attention. Be firm with your NOs and travel with friends. You should never feel harassed or unsafe.

Given that this is an enormous convention with a reputation for being a little risque, I find the lack of a clearly stated harassment policy disturbing. I'd be a lot more OK with asking the Back Up project not to distribute ribbons if there were clear anti-harassment structures already in place.
21st-Aug-2012 02:58 am (UTC)
Sexy costumes can attract unwanted attention, but so can dressing in normal clothing and just being a chick at a convention. I think signs that state COSTUMES ARE NOT CONSENT would do better to discourage people from being a jerk.
21st-Aug-2012 02:57 am (UTC)
Good grief. Do people have any idea how hard it is to organize a HUGE event like this? How stressful? How many hours of sleep one loses? And then, when the organizing committee makes a decision that they have likely spent hours, maybe even days debating, a decision that impacts the safety and comfort of the attendees of this event, all people can do is bitch and complain and not realize that, essentially, the organizers of the event have their guests' bests interests at heart? I am sure there are many good and valid reasons why this decision was made, and the Dragon*Con organizers do not need to make those public. Clearly this is a decision that they have made after weighing many options.

Dragon*Con organizers I FEEL FOR YOU. I am currently coordinating an event for my organization and 30,000 people are expected to attend. There are only 8 of us in the non-profit so the whole thing is very all hands on deck, and anytime we make a decision or a change the board and the public and all the people BITCH AT US and COMPLAIN and don't take into account how much work it is, how hard it is, how much we are stressing to make the event good and fun and safe and the best it can be. And I know that that is all you are doing, Dragon*Con organizers--trying to make this event good and fun and wonderful and SAFE and the best it can be. So THANK YOU for all the hard work you do, and I am sorry that people do not realize this, and I know that this was a hard decision but that you have the Con attendees best interests at heart. So, again, thank you for all you are doing to make this Dragon*Con fantastic!
21st-Aug-2012 03:07 am (UTC)
Just because they spent a lot of time on a decision doesn't mean we should have to agree with it. No one's attacking the con organizers that I can see, just bringing up legitimate objections to this policy.
21st-Aug-2012 03:02 am (UTC)
While in their right to do so I would feel uncomfortable with a harassment policy would saying to a friend (not to them and with no intention of them hearing me) as a woman wearing a reveling costume that they looked hot and they overheard me and found that offensive could I get kicked out? or would it be based on actions like following and repeated statements (I would never do that even before my experience last year) or touching? or could some one not in the conversation bring the claim even if both parties were consenting (i.e. roll-playing) like how it is at work? I think touching, following, etc should get some ones badge removed but if you follow the governments work policy even saying to a friend that Jane or John Doe looks hot that is harassment even if both parties are okay with it.
21st-Aug-2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
There's a difference at a con and a work environment though. A woman or man posing for photos who gets told they are hot is not harassment IMHO. Following or groping someone who is minding their own business, regardless of how they're dressed, clearly is. Lewd comments may or may not be harassment depending on the circumstances. I would be leery of trying to enforce a government-style work policy at a con.
21st-Aug-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
Like a previous commenter stated, if you are going to make a statement about the Back Up Project (the entire purpose of which, honestly, is to make con-goers, especially females, feel a lot more comfortable and less alone, knowing that there are others in the vicinity who may take threats of harassment seriously, who keep a watchful eye out for fellow con-goers being harassed, and actively help them get out of a bad situation; whereas a con-goer who's been harassed cannot even easily report the situation to your security until after the harassment has happened), you NEED to have a better, more detailed Harassment Policy.

People may not realize it, but members of the cosplay community especially are CONSTANTLY harassed at cons. If someone is dressed just the least bit scantily (like, some cleavage here and there), they will get hit-on unwelcomely by a number of fellow con-goers, and that can turn very bad very quickly, especially when alcohol comes into play. Badge check/key check will do NOTHING to help, because most of the time the harassers are con-goers.

And I myself have not often seen members of the security team around the bars or the shadowy, unpopulated corners and hallways where harassment is most likely to take place. The last time I tried to get a drink from the sailboat bar, I was pretty much chased away by a group of drunken male con-goers getting into my personal space and saying obscene things right into my ear, and nearly putting their hands on me. There was no volunteer nearby to whom I could report this incident, and I haven't returned to that bar since, because I am honest-to-god afraid of being harassed without knowing anyone is there to back me up and to tell the harassers to hit the road (as I would if there were con-goers sporting the ribbon). And for the record, I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

...so anyways, if you don't like the ribbons, you need to put into play a much better anti-harassment policy (clearly and very visibly stated on your site and program guides), with more volunteers patrolling the areas where most harassment takes place, and volunteers that know how to non-violently handle a harasser as the situation is happening. Not after it's occurred. Because after is too late.
21st-Aug-2012 03:26 am (UTC)
So well-said. Reporting a harassment after the fact doesn't undo being harassed in the first place.
21st-Aug-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
I am really not pleased with this choice. Have you actually had any reports of something like this happening? The thing is, to know what the Back Up ribbons are about, you generally have to have read up on them--which means that you probably understand that a person with a ribbon is not automatically trustworthy, but someone you can signal to in a tight spot. It's not about going with them somewhere alone or putting yourself in more jeopardy because you believe that they're trustworthy--it's about them not ignoring something bad that's going on, but rather stepping in and giving you an opportunity to leave the situation.

Having been in this situation out in the "real world," I desperately wish these ribbons existed in everyday life. So I could know who would come and say "Hey, she said no, back off," when I signalled and who (like most people) would just make a "what do you want?" face and go on with their business. The badge/room key check is all well and good, but there seems to be a lot of belief that only outside folks are doing the harassing. D*C attendees can (and have) harassed people too, and while reporting to security afterwards is a good thing to do, that doesn't help me get out of the situation in the first place.
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