chaiya: (corner of sky)
[personal profile] chaiya
I have not, recently, made many posts in my LJ, and some of this post involves information that I have never publicly shared before. So this is a challenging step for me, but it might be needed, and I want to do what is needed, if possible, if I can.

Readercon has been at the epicenter of a discussion about harassment and safe space in fandom, this past week. As the chair of this past Readercon, I can't be unbiased. I can't speak for Readercon as a whole, but I do have thoughts I would like to share publicly at this time (now that I'm back from my annual camping trip, which unfortunately coincided with a lot of the discussion I now feel the need to respond to).

I value safe spaces, and I am confident that this is a priority for Readercon people, as well. Many Readercon staffers are the same people who've been deeply involved supporters of the Backup Project. We recognize that the board's decision with regard to Ms. Valentine's complaint of harassment was made in haste, as was the original policy with regard to harassment at Readercon. In order to not compound errors further, we as the Readercon convention committee will be reexamining both with lots of thought and care.

That will, unfortunately, take time. We apologize for that, and for those who want a final decision sooner, but we are not able to do this both well and quickly. The makeup of the Readercon board is in transition, which does not in any way speed this process up.

Please have patience with us while we sort through this.

In the meantime, if it is possible, please try to add positively to this discussion. Think about ways that we can all support women PEOPLE coming forward with their concerns, in this community and the wider community. Be cognizant that the people trying to make Readercon happen were overworked and unpaid volunteers *before* these events, and are now even more overloaded with even fewer resources to spare.

Above all, please try to treat each other with respect and dignity. The amount of email I personally have received about this is astounding. The high percentage of emails that are pointedly hurtful and fall into name-calling is quite depressing. The calls to action have been furious and had no response from me before now (and many unfortunately will have to continue to wait for responses) because I was actually unable to respond before now. Not that most people realized this, but I was on a camping trip, away from internet and cell service for most of the past week.

I was not involved in the Readercon board's decision concerning this matter, but I did chair this past Readercon and was asked to chair the next one. I am personally invested, as a survivor of harassment, abuse, and rape, in having Readercon be a safe space. Please do not think I am impartial or uninvolved in the large-scope discussion we are having. Please allow us to take the time to have it.

Edited to add: Due to trying to make progress on addressing this situation, as well as coming back to my normally-60-hours-a-week job after camping vacation, I do not have nearly the time I'd like to respond to comments. They will all be read, and I will do my best to participate in this discussion, too, but I want to explain why I'm less available than I wish I could be.

Men Get Harassed Too

Date: 2012-07-31 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So, firstly, I agree with everything in your post.

Except this: "Think about ways that we can all support women coming forward with their concerns, in this community and the wider community."

And only to point out, as a man who has been harassed by a woman, that I would completely agree with the above if you changed "women" to "people"

Re: Men Get Harassed Too

Date: 2012-07-31 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com
Thank you; that's an important point that a concom member also just brought up with me. I apologize for the omission.

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Date: 2012-07-31 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] warinbear.livejournal.com
I have not been involved with any of this issue; I was not even aware of it until I saw commentary in another party's journal, probably within the last two days. I have not met any of the principals, nor have I researched the details of the incident.

None of that has anything to do with what I am about to say.

You have my full support in this matter, particularly in the areas of 1) restricting displays of temper to those who directly deserve it, and not taking out frustrations on third parties; 2) making use of reasonable amounts of time, discussion, and thought when making important and far-reaching decisions; and 3) comforting those who have suffered, specifically avoiding behaviors that would aggravate their injuries.

I don't know what I am able to do, whether in an active or a passive sense, to help. I don't know how much of that would be seen as helpful by individuals in this matter or by the larger community. Nevertheless, I want to help, and if there is something specific that you think I could do, please ask. The worst I will do is tell you that I don't have the necessary resources.

Date: 2012-07-31 10:25 pm (UTC)
anonymous_sibyl: a purple ribbon (Purple Ribbon)
From: [personal profile] anonymous_sibyl
I understand that you are quite possibly overwhelmed by this, especially since the majority of it occurred while you were away. Because of this I will gently point you toward a definition of the tone argument and note that you are tone policing in your penultimate paragraph.

In the meantime, if it is possible, please try to add positively to this discussion. Think about ways that we can all support women coming forward with their concerns, in this community and the wider community.

Many of us have already added positively to this discussion. We have suggested your Board educate themselves about harassment and have even given them ways to do so. However, the onus of education should not be on us. It should be--and it is--upon the Board who writes the policies and makes the decisions.

Be cognizant that the people trying to make Readercon happen were overworked and unpaid volunteers *before* these events, and are now even more overloaded with even fewer resources to spare.

This is something those people should have considered when creating and implementing policies. If they do not have the time or resources to perform this job then they should not attempt to do so. Again, the responsibility here is not on the general Readercon population but on the Board and others involved.

Date: 2012-07-31 11:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com
Thank you for the link, and your understanding comment. I am, indeed, rather overwhelmed, but I do feel this is an incredibly important conversation. That's why I posted asking for time. I do not intend to silence the conversation, and I'm sorry that's what you read in my post. Or at least, that's part of what I get from the tone argument webpage you linked to; I think I need to spend more time with it, but I also have an incredible amount of reading to catch up on, as you might imagine. Again, my apologies for that, and you have my thanks for adding to the conversation in a positive fashion.

I do intend to apologize for the way that this was badly handled, and I do not in any way mean to imply that this hasn't been mishandled.

I don't intend this post to be my full apology, because I don't think that I can even grasp the extent of this situation, at this time, having had as little ability to absorb things as I have had, thus far. But.

I am truly, truly sorry about all of this situation, and I hope that is something that I can communicate at least a little.



Regarding people needing to consider their available time and resources when working on conventions, that is a very difficult problem to tackle. Readercon has for many years had difficulty finding enough people who were willing and able to work on the convention committee, let alone do so at the level of service to which we aspire. It's a challenging thing that we need to hold ourselves to a high standard, and also we do not have enough volunteers or staff. Additionally, the level of staffing needed changes as things evolve, and the resources needed for the convention change, as well.

You are correct, though -- it's absolutely true that things would work much better if people only signed up for tasks they were qualified for and capable of and had the appropriate time and resources to handle. Similarly, if the leadership of the convention had the ability to recognize all of those factors in themselves and others, things would be much better. All I can say to that is that I am doing the best I can to improve this in Readercon.

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Date: 2012-08-01 01:29 am (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
If they do not have the time or resources to perform this job then they should not attempt to do so.

I've worked on a great many conventions, and they have all been put on by people who squeeze minutes here and there out of busy lives so they can make their volunteer commitments. If only unbusy people with lots of free time offered to put on conventions, there would be no conventions.

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Date: 2012-07-31 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] con-girl.livejournal.com
Just hugs. Somewhere in your Fb messages there are more.

Date: 2012-07-31 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starrcat.livejournal.com
I went to my first Readercon this year though only for one day but was so impressed that I signed up for next year's.

My problem is this: Readercon has in place a policy. Readercon's board did not abide by this policy. That is the problem. If the original policy was made in haste, why was it not reviewed in the years that it has been in place.

The only thing that I can deduce is that the difference was in the harasser not the harassment. Some harassers apparently get a go free card. This does not lead to a feeling of a safe environment.

I haven't canceled my membership yet, but I will if the policy is not followed. If it is changed in the future, then future events can be reviewed under the new policy. But if policy is changed retroactively, then there is no surety and no safety and an attendee has nothing to rely on.

Date: 2012-08-01 01:08 am (UTC)
cos: (frff-profile)
From: [personal profile] cos
> The only thing that I can deduce is that the difference was in the harasser not the harassment.

Or perhaps the difference was between the 2008 board and the 2012 board?

(Just reading about this stuff today, since I was also camping this weekend at the same event she was, so my info is somewhat incomplete)

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From: [identity profile] neverjaunty.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-08-01 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-08-01 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wood-artist.livejournal.com
I have not attended Readercon, although I have considered doing so and have many friends within the community that do attend. As a somewhat disinterested outsider I would offer this suggestion.

Based upon what I've seen there are two Facts not in dispute. First, that Readercon had an explicit, stated, published policy of zero tolerance.

Second, that there is no disagreement upon the Facts in this case, namely that the identity of those involved are known, the conduct identified in the complaint did actually take place, that this is not the first occurrence of such conduct by the "suspect" and that Readercon has applied the existing policy to others (at least once) in the past.

Now, the policy may be good or bad. I happen to agree with it, but that's a judgement call. It is possible that the policy deserves to be changed or adjusted. I can't truly judge that beyond my own personal feelings...which are not at issue here.

What remains true is that Readercon, acting through its board, did NOT follow the stated policy. They conducted (apparently) an appropriate review of the complaint, agreed with the complainant, and then did something else.

We are, or at least believe ourselves to be, a nation governed by laws. We strive to be that, and although this policy is not part of our legal system, it functions in much the same way. It is a contract, which identifies the obligations of all parties.

Society cannot function when contracts are made and then broken, simply because they later seemed excessive or wrong-headed, or otherwise flawed. In short, Readercon made a contract with their attendees, and then decided to break the contract.

If, during your discussion, you decide that the policy is wrong, you have the right to change it. However, that does not, in any legal sense, give you the right to change it retroactively. Ex post facto says something that happened before the law does not suddenly become "against the law" if the law is changed. It works both ways.

Readercon specified the law, the man (in this case) broke the law, and there was a specified punishment. It was not a "range of punishment options" it was specific. Doing anything else means Readercon believes there is no contract, and calls into question ever other aspect of the contract. It would, for example, allow Readercon to advertise that the keynote speaker will be Arthur C Clarke, and then fail to produce him. In short, Readercon becomes nothing but a scam...or, in literary terms...a farce!

Date: 2012-08-01 01:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaph.livejournal.com
I'm so sorry you have this on your plate, especially after having been away. I think the letter is great. I see no "tone policing" in asking that people remain civil and respectful of each other. Name-calling is not a matter of "tone," but of respect. (Especially when you're getting harassed for having been away, which you couldn't help.) You're not saying people can't be mad, even mad at you, but that they need to do so in a respectful way. I don't like the way many progressive communities have reacted to tone policing by shaming those they perceive as trying to police tone. *sigh*

(((major hugs)))

Date: 2012-08-01 02:32 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
1) *Hug*

2) Anything I can do to help?

questions

Date: 2012-08-01 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alan deniro (from livejournal.com)
Crystal, can I just ask some basic logistical questions? I think they might be helpful in delineating and clarifying the context of the next steps:
1. are you, as chair, a member of the board? (I don't believe that is the case from what I read but I just want to make sure)
2. what is your role as chair, then, in relationship to the board?
3. related to 2: how do you see your role as rectifying this particular situation?
4. Can you explain how the board is "in transition"?

Thanks.

Re: questions

Date: 2012-08-01 06:01 am (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
I'm not Crystal, but I can answer items 1 and 2.

1) The concom (about 30 people) elects the board (5 people, who are also members of the concom). Crystal is chair of the concom. She is not and has not been on the board; it's traditional at Readercon that the conchair and program chair are not board members, since we generally have enough other demands on our time and attention.

2) The conchair has no direct or official relationship to the board. When the concom has voted on items that need board approval (such as the selection of GOHs for each year's con), I suppose it's officially the conchair's job to bring that to the board, but we don't usually stand on ceremony to that extent.

Re: questions

Date: 2012-08-01 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com
1) I honestly don't know. Some conventions automatically include the chair in the executive board, some don't. It wasn't previously a concern, because the board was not tasked with any issues that I was aware of, and because I had plenty of work to do simply as chair.

2) I don't know.

3) The concom may have the ability to overrule board decisions. I'm chair of the concom. There's a vote before the committee regarding this, which will also be on the agenda at our next meeting. I don't know what our process might be, as we've never faced this situation before, but now I am involved.

4) Most of the current board members have resigned or announced their intention to resign.

The answers to these questions are part of why I simply feel that we need time to figure out what the process is and look at the facts -- some of which are still coming in. I am concerned that any decisions made now will be hasty and without full knowledge of the situation.

Re: questions

From: [identity profile] alan deniro - Date: 2012-08-01 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-08-01 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chanaleh.livejournal.com
*hugs*

Have been following it all with interest (and some heartache).

Date: 2012-08-01 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dharma-slut.livejournal.com
With all due respect, I think most people will be unhappy if your discussion gets in the way of justice in this case.

Whatever waffling and prevarication come between the first statement and the con's final statement, I fully expect that the con will honor its policy as it should have done in the first place. And I don't see why that should take very long at all.

Take care of this matter first. THEN you can have the large-scope conversation.
Edited Date: 2012-08-01 11:06 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-01 03:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that discussion would get in the way of justice -- that is not our intention. Part of the difficulty is that it's very unclear *how* to take care of this matter, procedurally.

I also think, however, that emotions are running high. I want people to be able to talk about their emotions AND figure out how to get productive things done. That will require some patience.

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Date: 2012-08-01 04:05 pm (UTC)
totient: (default)
From: [personal profile] totient
I don't see why that should take very long at all

If what you mean here is that you are angry and that you personally desire a rapid reconsideration of the immediate question at hand, then I am sure that you are not alone and that your voice and that of your constituency has been heard.

If what you mean is really that you do not understand the positions of the people outside that constituency, consider two requests in the comments to this very post. One, for the current board to resign, and two, for the (new) board to consist of people who have carefully considered their commitment to it. This will take time. The impact to René Walling will be the same regardless of whether the action we all desire is taken by this board or a new one. But the impact to Readercon as a safe space will be vastly different, because it will have been taken by people who believe in it, not in reaction to outrage, and we will be able to believe that keeping the space safe will not require outrage in the future.

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future steps

Date: 2012-08-01 10:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crotchetyoldfan.livejournal.com
Thank you for addressing this quickly (once you were able) and for your considered responses to everything that's been thrown at you since. You are in a difficult position and one in which it is going to be impossible to make everyone happy.

Given the current situation, I believe that there really is only one viable solution for moving forward (effectively):

the Readercon Board of Directors needs to resign en masse and immediately.

a new board needs to be installed, one that will take as its first action the implementation of existing policy. That is, to enforce standing policy as written in this case. Its second action should be the re-examination of that policy in light of this and other 'learning experiences'.

You will find in the end that there is just no other way to restore confidence in the event; the board's actions in this case - beyond anything else that it did - essentially chose to 'favor' ONE attendee's interests over the interests of EVERY SINGLE OTHER ATTENDEE.

When someone has a bit too much to drink at the bar, the bouncers escort them off the premises and find them a taxi - they don't remove all of the other patrons from the establishment; when someone can't shut up in the theater, the ushers remove them - not the rest of the audience.

It is unfortunate that such an otherwise wonderful event should be marred with this incident, but the situation has moved beyond it now. Now the question is whether or not Readercon can survive this and I am afraid that you are facing the need for drastic solutions; antibiotics are not working, it is time to amputate and cauterize.

Date: 2012-08-01 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bruorton.livejournal.com
I'm saddened to hear about this whole complicated mess of a situation, but setting it aside for a moment: I love you, and support you. I'm aware of your courage, here, and while I really wish I could give you a hug, or send them in spirit, what I really want is for those closest to you to give you some extra hugs from me. Feel free to so instruct them, on my behalf. =)

You're doing a great job, in spite of everything.
Edited Date: 2012-08-01 01:07 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-01 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muckefuck.livejournal.com
We recognize that the board's decision with regard to Ms. Valentine's complaint of harassment was made in haste

Are you free to elaborate on this in any way? My impression from following what's been posted is that the Board spent two weeks investigating the allegations and deliberating before announcing their decision. Is that not actually what happened?

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nope

Date: 2012-08-01 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I will be patient when people don't tell me condescendingly to be patient and positive. I will be patient when I have greater-than-zero confidence in an organization - unlike this one, which has shown itself to be pro-harassment, pro-transphobia, and generally awful. Readercon is run by a bunch of people who have acted in and are acting in cowardly, pro-kyriarchy ways and should absolutely feel bad about it. I hope your con stops running as a result of this bad publicity, because publicity this terrible comes only from acts on this magnitude of terribleness.

Re: nope

Date: 2012-08-02 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com
I am sorry you feel that way. I do not think there is more I can say to this comment.

Re: nope

From: [identity profile] starrcat.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-08-04 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-08-02 03:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surrealestate.livejournal.com
As soon as this went down and I saw your name wasn't at the bottom of that release, I assumed that meant you weren't involved in the decision, but also that as con-chair, you would no doubt end up suffering all sorts of accusations. Blah.

What I wish is that shortly after the Board realized they'd screwed up royally, they had issued a short statement to that effect, even if they did not have a solution yet. Just to say, thanks for all the feedback, we realize we acted in haste, we are working in remedying.

Date: 2012-08-02 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muckefuck.livejournal.com
As I say above, I'm not grokking the "in haste" part. What, did the Board arrive at its decision in one hurried meeting and then simply delay making it public for a while? "Making a decision in haste" usually means you were pressured to issue it before you had all the information and/or before everyone who should've been consulted was. It would fit the bill if, say, they had to decide whether or not to eject Walling while ReaderCon was still in session.

As someone replied to the Board right after their announcement, the lack of transparency in their decision-making is one of the most concerning aspects of the whole affair. As it stands, I can't tell if "in haste" refers to an actual dysfunction in how the Board deliberates or whether it's simply a rhetorical attempt at denying full responsibility for their actions (since we generally don't judge lapses as severely when we feel someone was rushed to render a response). Are there are other possibilities I haven't considered?

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From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-08-02 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand

part 1

From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-08-02 09:34 pm (UTC) - Expand

part 2

From: [identity profile] chaiya.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-08-02 09:34 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Re: part 2

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Re: part 2

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Re: part 2

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Re: part 2

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Re: part 2

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Date: 2012-08-06 05:15 pm (UTC)
ext_86356: (Default)
From: [identity profile] qwrrty.livejournal.com
I am deeply, deeply impressed and moved by your response to this whole mess. You have potentially set a new standard for how a con should deal with harassment and respond to public outcry, and that is an extraordinary thing indeed. Well done, [livejournal.com profile] chaiya, [livejournal.com profile] rosefox and the rest of concom.

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