by Erin Mitchell
In July, sci-fi author John Scalzi created a personal policy whereby he will not participate in conventions that don’t have a clear and articulated anti-sexual harassment policy. He felt this necessary following ongoing reports of harassment in various forms at sci-fi/fantasy/comic gatherings (I did a quick check and found detailed posts going back as far as 2008).
I have no idea. I do know that I have never been harassed—not even close—at a Bouchercon (or any other crime fiction gathering). I’ve never seen anyone harassed, either. I have, however, heard stories that could fall into a definition of harassment, but they were dealt with between individuals, not requiring the intervention of organizers.
The fact is that Bouchercon is different from ComicCon. It has a completely different format, and the tone and tenor of events is vastly different. That said, there is a fair bit of consumption of adult beverages at Bouchercon, and any time there’s a group of grown-ups drinking copious amounts of booze, there’s a risk of inappropriate behavior.
Ultimately, though, I think it’s pretty simple: Be good. Treat people well. Have fun that’s not at the expense of someone else.
So, is the crime fiction community better than our sci-fi brethren? Nah. Is crime fiction less salacious than sci-fi? Definitely not. Do people wear fewer bikinis at Bouchercon than at, say, ComicCon? Yup. Should this make a difference? No, but here in the real world, it does.
Colleen Lindsay wrote a fantastic etiquette guide for people participating in ComicCon, and some of her advice applies to Bouchercon as well. Ultimately, I think it boils down to this:
We’re all going to Bouchercon for variations of the same reason. We all want to have fun, and we each define fun a little differently. We all know how to behave in ways that interfere with nobody else’s fun and that if we wonder whether something is appropriate, it probably isn’t.
I hope that a specific written policy for Bouchercon is unnecessary, but I realize I might be too Pollyanna about it. What do you think? Does Bouchercon need an anti- harassment policy? Do other crime fiction gatherings?