As the originator of the 'Gamergate' hashtag on Twitter, many were upset that Adam Baldwin was invited to attend the Sydney and Perth Supanova shows this year. This resulted in a sizeable amount of online protest and a petition to revoke that invitation. This morning Supanova responded to that petition. According to Daniel Zachariou, Supanova Event Director, the team will be "proceeding with Adam’s attendance as planned".
In a sizeable statement on the Supanova Facebook page, Zachariou explained the decision.
To exclude someone from Supanova for their views, even if we don’t share them, goes completely against the spirit of the expo that we’ve presented all these years as all our stars appear to discuss their work in pop culture, not their personal political or ideological viewpoints. We similarly embrace all our fans, whatever their various pop culture passions may be, and that inclusiveness is at our very heart.
Further, the concerns are far-reaching and complex, and contain an immense amount of discord. We feel, as Supanova, that we’re not positioned to adjudicate either way.
The statement also included a response from Baldwin himself.
The harassment and threats being made on both sides of the #GamerGate debate shame the games industry and make it extremely difficult for casual observers to see the merits of arguments about corruption, ethics or journalism.
Threats of violence and/or "doxxing" should be reported to law enforcement and handled at their discretion. Such threats are reprehensible and have no place in any debate. Obviously, I condemn harassment. The YouTube videos linked on Twitter at the outset last September contained no personal information of any individual. I had zero knowledge of what might be in their comments sections. No one can honestly be expected to check vast comment threads below articles or videos before linking to them.
Lastly, I believe that pop culture conventions are inappropriate venues for controversial topics, so I will respectfully not be discussing them at Supanova, or its related events.
Zachariou closed with the following:
Given that we have Adam’s statement above verifying he will not discuss #GamerGate while stating categorically that he does not condone harassment, bullying or doxxing under any circumstances; given we as Supanova will not allow questions regarding the subject from the floor; given we as Supanova as a professional organisation must fulfil our contractual obligations; given Supanova will be providing the highest level of enforcement of our Code of Conduct (a condition of entry to the event) to ensure our strong anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies are maintained; and given that so many fans continue to support Adam’s appearance as part of our ‘Serenity’ 10th Anniversary celebration, we will be proceeding with Adam’s attendance as planned.
As we’ve already mentioned, Supanova Expo has an incredibly inclusive array of fans who kindly share the space with each other, based on their mutual passions for imaginary worlds. Our programming crosses all demographics, celebrating diversity and a wide variety of genres. Supanova does not condone or allow bullying or harassment in any way, shape or form at our events which ensures a friendly, safe and welcoming environment. Both the Code of Conduct and the spirit of Supanova are agreements to treat with honour and respect every single fan and friend at the expo. You’ve always made us so very proud with the positive atmosphere you have created at every event.
Albert Santos, the creator of the petition, was disappointed with the decision.
Baldwin has a history of calling for aggressive action, including doxxings, on others. He has called people “dipshits” and “morons”, has aggrivated key GamerGate tagret Zoe Quinn directly, has threatened former Supanova guest Wil Wheaton, has called Thanksgiving “Victory over the Savages Day” and has suggested that antivaccination campaigners all be “doxxed and tortured”. These are all things that he has said and done, primarily through his twitter handle, which he regularly wipes clean. These go directly against the code of conduct of Supanova, which they kindly in the statement supporting him.
Throughout all of this, the most concerning thing is how little consumer input Supanova have seeked. Not once was anyone formally asked about means to alleviate the matter. Instead, they actively seeked out prominent feminist figures, including Brianna Wu and Kirsty Mac, in informal and dubious settings to ask for ways to “better” the situation. In addition, not once did they seek to clarify if the counter-petition (which, for the record, was started by a teenager in Washington and filled with fake signatures from 8chan) was legitimate or created in good faith. They instead went with responses to their original post...
What Supanova seems to gloss over in its statement is the fact that many attendees — female attendees in particular — simply feel threatened by Baldwin's presence and the crowd his attendance will potentially attract. They feel unsafe. The statement focuses on Adam's views and makes the fair case that an attendee's views shouldn't be reason for exclusion, but the fact is his attendance will make many feel excluded themselves, particularly since Baldwin has made light of harrassment on multiple occasions on his Twitter. Promising not to talk about Gamergate is meaningless in this context: women will still feel afraid, women will still feel excluded and threatened.
The reaction on Supanova's Facebook page, where the statement first appeared, has been mixed as you might expect. Some are condemning the decision, many think it was the right call. Albert Santos, the creator of the petition intends to keep fighting the petition in any way possible.
As a former Supanova attendee, cosplayer, volunteer, stall-holder and friend, I and many others, are disappointed beyond belief. However, now that we know where Supanova stand, will we regroup, and we will continue to put the pressure in any and every way we can. This does not end today. It never ends.