(First Disclaimer: Because I know trolls don’t respect boundaries, I’ll just make this clear – try to add trash to my comments section, no one will ever see your shit and you’ll be shown the door.)
(Second Disclaimer: It’s 4AM after my return from con, I’m sore in all of the places – thanks fibro – I’m exhausted -thanks fibro – and my patience for bullshit is damn near zero – thanks anxiety. I am not hosting a debate. That is your only warning)
Skepticon 8 Round Up!
Okay, so I went to Skepticon 8, and boy oh boy did I have a blast! My workshop, Abortion Mythbustin’, was well attended, got some great audience participation and lots of good feedback afterwards. The workshops and talk I managed to attend – again, thanks fibro, anxiety and good ol’ impostor syndrome – were mostly awesome. I want to attend next year sooo freakin’ badly.
I rode down with some great traveling buddies who took care of me when the ride was getting too much, and the accommodations offered at the con were kinda surprising for me. Closed captioning for the talks, a place where those who couldn’t afford to eat could grab actual food, a quiet room, ASL interpretation, gender neutral bathrooms and they really took care of their speakers.
Heh, speakers, I’ll get to that in a minute.
Could they have done better with that? Well yeah. Maybe the dance didn’t needs the flashing lights they warned about, for example. But every convention has their ups and downs. All in all, I’m giving it up to the staff and volunteers. Good job.
Me, A Speaker? Holy Shit!
So yeah, Sunday morning came around and something was wrong. The scheduled speaker, Teka-Lark Fleming, hadn’t even checked into her hotel room (hope she’s alright and they found out what happened to her). They needed someone to fill in the 10 am spot.
“Hey, I have that Clinic Escort talk Brianne and I do on my laptop,” my mouth said before my brain realized what the fuck it just done.
They were delighted and before I knew it, I was on stage, running my mouth without my Partner in Crime.
People liked it. They really did. I got so many questions afterwards and I didn’t throw up. Well, I got shaky as all fuck, which is normal after I do shit after that – thanks anxiety! Big ups to Stephanie Zvan for helping me cope.
The staff were so supportive and nice and grateful and really I should be the grateful one that they gave me this moment…given what had happened the day before.
The Day Before
We had some great talks this weekend. Let me make that clear. We had some GREAT fucking talks. I was excited as all hell to hear from Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, who minced not one single damn word (ending with a slam against ‘Dawkins dude-bros’ which got hella applause). I bounced in my seat when Fallon Fox got on stage.
…and then it was question time.
Straight up, cis people, y’all gotta learn how to speak to/about trans people and their issues without sounding like a damn fool. So many people, mostly white cis dudes, were just fucking up. “Transgenders”, “When you were a man”, shit that made my eyes roll so far.
There was one very awesome question by a sweet looking older woman who asked what martial art should she try. Fallon suggested Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and was straight up sincere about it. Applause!
Then some asshole, in a Tap Out shirt no less, came up and tried to claim that he had knowledge about genetics and hormones and stuff because he was a former bodybuilder…
…in a room where I could count the biologists I knew…
The question was incoherent, but trying to find out if Fallon’s hormones level were the same as a cis woman’s (my term, not his), and when he got to the phrase “kept your manhood”, Lauren Ann Lane, head of this con and moderator of the talk, shut that shit down and told him to leave.
Which, because cis white dude, he didn’t. He kept arguing. Pro-tip: If con staff tells you to do something, you fucking do it.
He was escorted out to applause, and a few fools – behind me – argued that he was in the right. Ugh.
Fallon actually answered what she thought the question was anyway.
Seriously, cis people, use the Google box. Do the work!
The Mizzou Issue
Oh, this one gets a different section.
After the Fallon Fox interview, it was announced that there would be a surprise Q&A with a Mizzou student and journalist Mark Schierbecker during the lunch break. The understanding of the staff (which I talked to afterwards) was according to the press release:
“It’s important that college campuses are a safe and welcoming environment so students can learn,” Schierbecker clarified. “Racism needs to be the main issue here. Fighting racism versus advocating freedom of the press is a false dichotomy, and some people are hijacking what happened to me and other journalists to talk about freedom of the press instead of racism. I want to answer questions about what happened to me, and about speech codes, to make sure at the end of the day, we are working on addressing racism.”
Sounded okay. I didn’t even read the press release until later, but it was the understanding of those around me that this would be some sort of update or information about Concerned Student 1950 and/or Mizzou.
Boy were we wrong.
It started off okay. Danielle Muscato gave a short timeline of the issue, and they showed an edited video of journalists being ‘assaulted’ by the protesters who were enforcing an “Press-Free Zone”.
The assault? Having a camera blocked and slightly pushed. No really. We saw a 6 minute edit, but apparently the footage was 22 minutes long and had more context.
It became clear that this was more about Mark complaining about his assault and hoping that the professor who touched his camera is fired than any actual concern about race or media. Like “Let’s handle my problem so we can get back to dealing with racism on my campus”.
I walked. I couldn’t deal with any more white cis nonsense. I was fresh out of fucks.
Thankfully, I had friends who stayed and we compared notes over drinks. Angry, emotional drinks. The Q&A was more of a press event with this person trying to get sympathy for his issue. Thankfully, Diane from Kansas City Freethinkers got up at the supposed end and started the questions from the audience. Who then proceeded to put his feet to the fucking fire, explain the issues between white media and black experience, having him talk to black journalists. Dude had interviews from Fox News and Brietbart. The short video he put up has been shown on Stormfront. And it was like he didn’t give a shit.
Then he started getting all mixed up. “Everyone is a little bit racist” but “Fuck racists” and “Racists suck”. When called on it, he proceeded to lose the script. And there had to be a script at the beginning of this ‘dialogue’.
Now, watch the video. No one but his PR person Danielle (who promptly quit after this hot mess) mentioned Mark and ‘racist’.
Mark outright said that until this professor is fired, that was when the focus would return to Concerned Student 1950’s concerns. Holy fucking shit. His concern is more about this professor and his ‘rights’. Period.
Afterwards, shit just blew right up. Mark filmed and put up a video, upset and crying about being cast as a racist, said he was autistic and had social anxiety and Danielle told him to say stuff. He called it Journalists Lives Matter, subtitled “Fuck Skepticon”.
Then Twitter grabbed it and suddenly Skepticon was terrible and made an autistic boy cry and they hated autism and blah, blah, blah.
Let’s Get Some Things Straight
Firstly, this isn’t a boy. This is a grown man. A grown man claiming to be a journalist (though not a journalism student). Last time I checked, autism doesn’t turn someone into a boundary pushing asshole, and it’s shitty to claim otherwise. Mark isn’t a fucking victim. If he cared about racism, why the fuck was he on Fox News? Why was he talking to Breitbart? Didn’t he know how they were going to spin this?
And assault? Please. This guy received an direct apology from the professor who touched his camera, but it wasn’t good enough for him. He wants her fired. Please. There are black protesters who get tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets for expressing their right to be in public spaces. Get out of here with this assault bullshit.
Now, there were new people on the #skepticon hashtag trying to defend the convention and/or teach a thing or two about white media privilege who didn’t realize something very important:
There are some usual suspects who follow certain members of the skeptical movement from convention to convention, hashtag to hashtag, throwing poop and making shitty claims though they themselves aren’t even at the conventions.
Any time PZ Myers, Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, pretty much anyone from the Freethought Blogs network attends a convention, time for them to act like jackasses.
“Oh, look at all the empty seats!”
“Oh, something slightly inconvenient happened, it’s the end of this convention!”
“Blah, blah, SJW blah blah”
“Vague gross sexual references!”
And it goes on and on. There’s no point in trying to argue with them, folks. They have nothing new or important to say and should probably just be blocked.
They don’t care about Mark.
They don’t care about autism.
They don’t care about racism or diversity.
They don’t care about anything else than slandering people they don’t like and conventions that give more than lip service to making the skeptical movement more diverse and more interesting.
You want to know about tears? I’ll tell you about tears.
When I walked out of that talk, I fought my own tears. Tears of frustration that this fucker just wasn’t getting it. Tears of anger that this was allowed.
I wanted food and a drink to distract me and ended up at the bar. One frozen grapefruit margarita and a calamari plate later, and I could feel human again and not like I was going to bawl in the middle of the hotel restaurant.
Then I was joined by my friends, Greta, Ingrid, Jason, Stephanie, Benny, Chelsea. And was filled in on the rest of what happened AND the staff reaction.
The staff was horrified. What was sold to them was NOT what was delivered. There was panic. There was concern. Should they let the “Q&A” keep going? Should they stop it?
And then, action. They would release the entire video, audience questions included. And then there was an apology posted (Full disclosure: I was asked to review this apology before it was released). They took responsibly for this shitshow even if they were deceived as to the content.
And that is when I gained respect for this convention, and I didn’t feel like crying anymore.
Good show, Skepticon. I hope to see y’all next year.