According to a stream of tweets under the hashtag #CalgaryExpo, members of a Gamergate affiliated group have been evicted from their crowdfunded booth at the event following accusations that they planned to disrupt one or more panels. The whole thing is happening pretty much right now and is difficult to piece together. Here's an initial report from The Mary Sue:
A Gamergate affiliated group known as Honey Badger Radio procured a booth for Calgary Expo through a crowdfundng campaign specifically geared toward gaining attendance under false pretenses. The people representing them are Karen Straughan, Mike Stephenson, Alison Tieman, and Sage Gerard, and of their campaign they wrote:
In April of this year, the Honey Badgers plan to put on a booth at the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo! We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own. Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way.
That’s it folks.
As men’s issues advocates and defenders of creator’s rights to create unmolested, that’s what we have to say to the nerds and geeks and gamers. You are fantastic as you are, carry on.
Yep, in today’s political climate that’s considered an extremist position. Just letting creative communities create; consumers consume what they want; and gamers get down to the business of vidya without being judged.
So if you share our vision of a world in which nerds and geeks and gamers roam free and unfettered, help us spread that message by throwing a few shekels our way to attend the con.
The Mary Sue also says that the Honey Badger folks interrupted a panel last night:
The group also attended the “Women Into Comics” panel last night. Panelist Brittney Le Blanc gave us this account of the events that transpired:
We were about fifteen minutes into the panel when a woman in the second row stood up and identified herself as a Men’s Rights Activist. She and her male companion both came to raise issues they felt would not be covered by our panel. Raising points about the way men are portrayed in comics struck a note with all the panelists, as we agreed that we want to see a diversity across body types, characters, races, etc in mainstream comics. Not everyone wants to see a hero who looks like he’s built like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They also accused us of presenting all women as victims, which was an outright lie and derailing tactic.
Their questions did take up quite a bit of time at the panel and served to derail the topic onto another tangent, which was frustrating for the panel and for those in the audience. It’s what they came to do, and in part, they succeeded. I would say that it brought up some great discussions though, allowing us to talk about the lack of representation for people of colour in comics and to give well deserved props to artists like Sophie Campbell, who has done an amazing job in showcasing a broad range of bodies with her art in Jem and the Holograms.
It’s disappointing that they weren’t there to have a conversation or to listen to what we, and members of the audience, were saying. They wanted to stand up and have their say, but not to listen or try to understand the points of view other people in the room had. This was further proven by the video discussion they posted later last night, in which they mentioned our panel and that we were “donning the ball gowns of our victimhood”, which I’m not even entirely sure how to take. I will admit to not watching the whole video, and I think anyone who attempts to watch it would understand why.
I truly believe in freedom of speech, but coming to a panel with the entire purpose of derailing it and shooting down the voices on the panel isn’t constructive. It appears that was their plan for the expo, to come and to loudly take over the spaces of other people – although it was not violent or threatening, it’s disrespectful, disappointing and offers a prime example of why these panels need to exist in the first place.
A few hours ago, the Honey Badger booth was reportedly kicked out of the expo:
On Twitter, Gamergate proponents are denying that the group did anything wrong, asking for evidence of the panel being disrupted, and demanding an explanation for the expulsion, with some accusing the convention of using the Mary Sue article as the sole justification for it. Here's some tweets pulled randomly from the hashtag feed. We apologize for the randomness but they're coming in a mile a minute and I'm not sure there's an authoritative response yet (though if one becomes evident we'll pass it along):
Some, however, such as comics pro Mark Waid, are praising the convention's swift action:
We're sure more info will become available on this matter later today or this weekend, and when it does, we'll update you. In the meantime, you can follow the #CalgaryExpo hashtag and investigate for yourself. If you're an attendee at the expo and witnessed any of the events, we'd love to hear from you.
UPDATE: Honey Badger Radio, the group that was expelled, has released an audio recording of the panel. You can listen to it here:
We'll update you when more info becomes available.