So this happened yesterday:
With 97,000 attendees last year, this year’s Calgary Comic Expo – billed as the 2nd largest in Canada and the 4th largest in North America – should’ve been a blast for all the guests, exhibitors and visitors.
For one group promoting comic books and free expression, though, the trip turned into a humiliating nightmare – through no fault of their own.
Eight members of the women’s creative artistic group the Honey Badger Brigade (once located in space BF 3821 at the Expo) – Anna Cherry, Brian Martinez, Alison Tieman, Mike Stephenson (of YouTube channel DoctorRandomercam), Karen Straughan (GirlWritesWhat), Hannah Wallen, Sage Gerard, and Rachel Edwards – had their exhibitor’s booth shut down by security just before the doors opened to the public on Friday, April 17, the 2nd day of the 4-day exposition. They were then summarily ejected from the premises along with Alison’s husband and Anna’s companion – 10 ejections in all.
One leader of the cooperative group – comic producer Alison Tieman – was also blacklisted permanently from attending similar Comic Expositions across Canada, effectively destroying her ability to promote her art.
Their crime? Alison politely answered a question during a panel discussion.
The discussion can be heard below. It is clear from the audio that the discussion was civil. There were no threats, insults, or attacks.
Of course, feminists follow their typical group-think pattern and all commented the same way: it was a conspiracy! According to the Mary Sue:
A Gamergate affiliated group known as Honey Badger Radio procured a booth for Calgary Expo through a crowdfundng campaign specifically geared toward gaining attendance under false pretenses.
The evidence of this “false pretense” came from the Badger’s crowdfunding campaign:
In April of this year, the Honey Badgers plan to put on a booth at the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo! We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own. Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way.
That’s it folks.
As men’s issues advocates and defenders of creator’s rights to create unmolested, that’s what we have to say to the nerds and geeks and gamers. You are fantastic as you are, carry on.
Yep, in today’s political climate that’s considered an extremist position. Just letting creative communities create; consumers consume what they want; and gamers get down to the business of vidya without being judged.
So if you share our vision of a world in which nerds and geeks and gamers roam free and unfettered, help us spread that message by throwing a few shekels our way to attend the con.
That does not sound remotely like “false pretense.” It sounds like they were mocking the stupidity that comes from the so-called “social justice warriors.” Yet the Mary Sue’s article was apparently the catalyst for the ejection. The article was retweeted and led to complaints, which in turn led the expo to inform “Alison that they had received complaints on social media, including 25 allegations of harassment. No evidence was presented, no request was made for information from HBB, and no specific incident was cited until further questions were asked of security.”
The Fan Expo booted the Badgers from the convention and banned Alison (aka typhonblue) for life from any Fan Expo event. Remember, this was an expo supposedly about “inclusivity,” yet this is how they reacted.
Comics Alliance went further into the realm of stupid:
A GamerGate-associated group named “Honey Badger Radio” crowdfunded an appearance as exhibitors at CalgaryExpo, in part to sell pro-GamerGate merchandise, and in part to disrupt panels with a feminist angle. […] A Voice For Men also posted about Honey Badger Radio’s plans for CalgaryExpo. When one of the show’s supporters asked why they weren’t listed as an exhibitor, the organizers responded, “We will be available at our booth for all four days. We’re in stealth mode due to concerns about *ahem* people of a certain persuasion deciding to hassle the con organizers over having us space lepers at the show.”
The group knew that people would have a problem with their attendance, so they used the name “the Honey Badger Brigade” and claimed to be representing this webcomic. Applying under false pretenses is against the rules of the convention, and was enough to get the group kicked out.
Except that if you look at the banner the Badgers had on their booth, the webcomic was there. Alison sold merchandise related to her comic Xenospora. She also runs the Honey Badger site. It would appear that she used her webcomic page as the source, but had Honey Badger items and logos at the expo. I can see an issue with representing the group in person but using one’s comic to gain entrance, however, I fail to see that as a legitimate reason to remove them from the convention.
Shockingly, Kotaku was the least biased in its reporting, although it is still one-sided. They at least spoke to one of the Badgers, Karen Straughan, to find out her take:
“Our group was expelled from the con,” said Straughan. “Alison Tieman, creator of the Xenospora comic series, was banned from Calgary Expo and all their affiliated events across Canada.”
This is an overreaction to a rather benign event. Alison responded to a comment during the question and answer section of the panel. The Badgers had Gamergate items at their booth and sold a few of them. That is all that happened. To take this as anything else is ridiculous. Yet the group was banned for essentially expressing non-feminist views.
And in case anyone thinks that the panelists were reasonable in their response, here is what one of them stated to the Mary Sue:
We were about fifteen minutes into the panel when a woman in the second row stood up and identified herself as a Men’s Rights Activist. She and her male companion both came to raise issues they felt would not be covered by our panel. Raising points about the way men are portrayed in comics struck a note with all the panelists, as we agreed that we want to see a diversity across body types, characters, races, etc in mainstream comics. Not everyone wants to see a hero who looks like he’s built like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They also accused us of presenting all women as victims, which was an outright lie and derailing tactic.
Their questions did take up quite a bit of time at the panel and served to derail the topic onto another tangent, which was frustrating for the panel and for those in the audience. It’s what they came to do, and in part, they succeeded. I would say that it brought up some great discussions though, allowing us to talk about the lack of representation for people of colour in comics and to give well deserved props to artists like Sophie Campbell, who has done an amazing job in showcasing a broad range of bodies with her art in Jem and the Holograms.
It’s disappointing that they weren’t there to have a conversation or to listen to what we, and members of the audience, were saying. They wanted to stand up and have their say, but not to listen or try to understand the points of view other people in the room had. This was further proven by the video discussion they posted later last night, in which they mentioned our panel and that we were “donning the ball gowns of our victimhood”, which I’m not even entirely sure how to take. I will admit to not watching the whole video, and I think anyone who attempts to watch it would understand why.
I truly believe in freedom of speech, but coming to a panel with the entire purpose of derailing it and shooting down the voices on the panel isn’t constructive. It appears that was their plan for the expo, to come and to loudly take over the spaces of other people – although it was not violent or threatening, it’s disrespectful, disappointing and offers a prime example of why these panels need to exist in the first place.
Again, the audio to the discussion is posted above. Nothing remotely close to what the panelist described happened.
I do not understand this tendency among feminists to lie about these kind of things. I realize that is a gross generalization, however, I keep seeing this happen. Feminists fabricate stories about what occurred, assuming no one recorded the event. In this instance, it was recorded, and it sounds nothing like a derailment. Alison responded to a direct comment about men’s rights activists, and the lot of them had a civil discussion on the matter.
Yet these feminists ironically set out to prove Alison right by “donning the all gowns of their victimhood” to accuse her of “derailing” their scissor-fest conversation. Not only have they shown that they have the maturity of middle school girls, they also banned a female creator from their tiny section of the community for not playing the role they set for her.. That is censorship, and it is sure as hell misogyny. Nicely done, ladies.
Toward the end of my interview with them, the Honey Badgers made one thing clear: they didn’t want any talk of boycotts or anything else that would hurt the livelihood of the exhibitors in the same way that the Honey Badgers were injured. Their argument is with the shabby ways they were treated by the Expo organizers.
I understand that position, but I must disagree. I do not think anyone should give any support to Fan Expo. Do not attend their conventions until they learn how to treat people with whom they disagree respectfully. No one should support a group intent on censoring and banning dissent. Likewise, do not support the creators from the panel. They clearly could not engage in honest discussion without smearing the other side. Do not give these people your money.