Jon Del Arroz Barred Entry to Worldcon 76
Note: Numerous inaccuracies have been pointed out in our reporting. As such, we are appending a number of updates to the end of the article to reflect this and try to correct the record.
At TaleBlend, we strive to maintain an apolitical stance and aim to assist all storytellers, regardless of political, racial, sexual or gender lines. However, there are sometimes politically-motivated events that happen within the realms of storytelling subcultures, and we feel that they must be pointed out as examples of what not to do. TaleBlend wishes to make it clear that we have no preference for conservative or liberal politics. We do not make any show of support for Republican or Democrat ideals. Rather, we assert that in order for a healthy culture to function, political perspectives must be discussed with mutual respect. Lastly, TaleBlend would like to point out that the author of this piece, EJ Spurrell, identifies as politically left-wing.
WorldCon, once a cultural icon for the Science Fiction community and birthplace of the Hugo Awards for achievement in science fiction has in recent years been accused of favoritism for authors that specifically identify on the progressive left and has received allegations of blacklisting authors perceived by progressive attendees as conservative.
These allegations are roundly denied by attendees, but all one needs to do is point out the dearth of right-leaning science fiction authors within the ranks of Hugo Award winners to ensure the point is made. To many right-leaning authors, and a not-inconsequential number of left-leaning authors, it’s undeniable. So much so, in fact, that a voting bloc emerged several years ago under the name of the Sad Puppies, purported to give a voice to authors that feel they were being unjustly sidelined due to holding conservative or classical liberal viewpoints.
It is not TaleBlend’s place to assert the truth of these claims, but we do aim to report what people are saying about it, and raise some questions.
Hispanic conservative Jon Del Arroz, author of The Blood of Giants and The Stars Entwined recently penned a blog post entitled Pray for My Safety at Worldcon in which he expressed concerns about his safety at the event, particularly in light of the recent assault against TableTop gaming commentator and critic Jeremy Hambly at GenCon, allegedly by a faculty member employed by Quinnipiac University.
Today, in a livestream on Periscope, Jon Del Arroz chronicled his being denied entry to Worldcon and expressing concerns about conservatives being singled out and pedophiles within the industry. (The daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, a Lifetime Achievement Award for fantasy, alleged numerous incidents of sexual abuse, spurring a conversation over whether the award should be stripped posthumously.) He was then denied entry to the event.
— Literally Voldemort (@jondelarroz) August 16, 2018
While it appears that Worldcon has not been able to supply Del Arroz with a reason for his being barred entry, other worldcon attendees have asserted that it was due to his intent to film congoers. But Del Arroz was not the only one to express such intent, as author Patrick S. Tomlinson has also expressed such intent as well, citing concerns that Nazis would appear and attempting to warn them off by taking their picture and identifying them, and yet as far as I could tell, he hasn’t been held to the same standard. The problem then occurs when one fails to differentiate between a conservative and a Nazi, as the two terms, to many of these progressive authors, seem to be interchangeable.
As authors, one would think being precise in their speech would be a sticking point. Del Arroz is openly a Donald Trump supporter, but there appears to be an utter failure in the ability to differentiate between a Trump supporter, one of at least sixty million within the United States, and a Nazi. As authors who are purportedly to be good with language, it’s deeply concerning to this Liberal to resort to such rhetoric. Ethno-nationalists are undoubtedly loud and rude, particularly in online spheres, but there are hardly sixty million of them. I’d be surprised to learn there are more than sixty thousand, myself. And I have a hard time believing that Del Arroz is among their number. If we were to talk about Rabid Puppies founder Vox Day, on the other hand, I would agree, as he has openly stated he is a supporter of the alt-right as it is defined.
Too many these days prefer to use an amorphous definition of alt-right and attempt to stick it to anything right-of-center, despite numerous credible sources, including the Associated Press, specifically identifying them as white supremacist and ethno-nationalists, which shreds any claim to Jon Del Arroz’ apparent connection to the group and makes people asserting such things look incredibly, incredibly stupid. Jon Del Arroz has on multiple occasions derided identity politics, of which the alt-right certainly qualifies.
Nonetheless, that didn’t stop multiple Worldcon attendees, including directors, from regressing into childhood to malign Jon Del Arroz unfairly. He is politically conservative, and that is not the same thing as alt-right, least of all Nazi.
This sort of rhetoric has no place in an industry that claims to be professional. It is more at home with pre-pubescent children calling each other names until they find the one that hurts their peers the most. It is objectively immature.
I reached out to Jon Del Arroz for a quote on the events of the day, and he had this to say:
It’s a tragedy what this band of thugs has done to the name Worldcon. Their treatment of me is discrimination, pure and simple. All I want is everyone to be able to enjoy science fiction together but the divisive, extreme politics of the alt-left in charge of publishing and fandom establishments has to stop before they really hurt someone.
Del Arroz isn’t the first to point out the extreme divisiveness of the modern left. Canadian psychologist and university professor Jordan Peterson, a man who once said if he ran for office it would be under the Canadian Liberal Party, has expressed similar concerns about the state of the modern left and our inability to recognize when it’s going too far.
I would suggest anything that causes adults to devolve into caricatures of pre-teen Mean Girls in order to advance our political goals and agendas aren’t a good look for a professional industry, and Worldcon seems infested by such ideas. Conservatives have spoken about their perceived discrimination and received only mockery and righteous indignation in response, to the point where even being conservative is perceived as a sin worthy of scorn.
Regardless of where you stand politically, they have a point, and with every tweet published by supposed professionals, their points are amplified. The Sad Puppies of the world are growing as a result, and unless Worldcon makes some changes, the problem is only going to get worse.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to engage respectfully in the comments below.
Update 2018-08-18: We would like to apologise for not doing our due diligence in this article by leaving several key pieces of information out.
- It should be noted that the context of Patrick Tomlinson’s tweet was in reference to filming a First Amendment and an anti-pedophilia rally occurring outside of Worldcon which Del Arroz was participating in. It still does not excuse the use of “Nazi” hyperbole, but provides greater context nonetheless.
- Jon Del Arroz is currently engaged in a lawsuit against Worldcon, which further complicates matters in finding accurate information.
- Jon Del Arroz had been previously barred entry from Worldcon in January of this year for “engendering a hostile environment.” While Worldcon has not specified exactly what they mean by that (although I have been informed it is due to numerous instances of trolling and claims of racist and/or bigoted speech) they had previously stated that he would be removed if found on the premises. TaleBlend attempted to find examples of bigoted speech, but what was found appears highly interpretive and not definitive. A blog post by Jim Hines attempts to archive instances of Del Arroz’ behavior.
- I have received claims that Del Arroz has failed to denounce the views of Vox Day. However, we here at TaleBlend do not believe that failure to denounce the claims of another means that support is implicit.
- I have reached out to Worldcon for comment and to share their side of the story and have guarantee that anything offered will be appended to this article verbatim, but considering the ongoing lawsuit, any response may be delayed indefinitely.
- A member of the Worldcon web team has responded me and referred me to the ombudsman for Worldcon 76. I will await a response from the ombudsman. The text is as follows:
EJ:Thank you for your message.Due to the ongoing litigation between Mr. Del Arroz and the current Worldcon’s parent non-profit corporation, and due to other issues such as a free speech event that Mr. Del Arroz appears to have organized on public property near this year’s Worldcon, we cannot comment about this. Please do not take this as being dismissive. We simply cannot comment about it.Worldcon 76 issued an official statement after Mr. Del Arroz’ suit. I am copying the convention’s Ombudsman on this reply for information. Any communication with Worldcon 76 should be directed through the convention Ombudsman. Statements you have read by other people are not the official opinion of Worldcon 76, their parent non-profit corporation (San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc.), or of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), an unincorporated literary society. Each Worldcon is organized by a legally independent entity. There is no central “Worldcon Inc” or similar entity.