Following reports of calls for political violence on Baen’s Bar, the online forum of Baen Books, and the subsequent temporary closure of the board by publisher Toni Weisskopf, Discon III, the 2021 Worldcon, has announced that it has removed Weisskopf as guest of honor.
Chair Bill Lawhorn sent a press release on February 19:
DisCon III condemns the violent and hostile content found within Baen Books’ forums. We also cannot condone the fact such content was enabled and allowed to ferment for so long. We want to make it clear abusive behavior is not, and will not be, tolerated at DisCon III. Such behavior goes entirely against our already established policies concerning inclusivity and creating a welcoming environment for our members, which can be found here: https://discon3.org/
We knew simply saying those words with no actions to back them up would be unacceptable. Too often, we have seen individuals and organizations say they are on the right side of issues yet do nothing to act on those words. We knew we had to take a hard look at our own position and take action based on our established policies.
As a result, after discussion with her, we have notified Toni Weisskopf we are removing her as a Guest of Honor for DisCon III.
We know this decision was not as quick as some of you would have wanted, and we understand your frustration. Our committee’s leadership was always in full agreement that there was a fundamental difference between the values Worldcon strives to uphold and the values allowed to be espoused on the forums-in-question.
In the entire eighty-plus year history of our community, no Worldcon has ever removed someone as a Guest of Honor. To remove a Guest of Honor was an unprecedented decision that needed discussion, consideration, and consensus. Those mechanisms sometimes do not move as fast as some would want, and we thank the community for its patience.
We also want to let everyone know that we are not planning on adding additional individuals to our Guest of Honor list.
We wish to thank you all for taking the time and energy to send us your feedback. Many of you have strong opinions on this issue, and we want everyone to know all your voices were heard and considered when rendering our decision. We will always welcome your feedback, questions, suggestions, and concerns, and we will continue to listen, reflect and act to ensure our members feel welcome at DisCon III.
Jason Sanford’s article, “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, was posted on his Patreon on February 15, 2021. Many authors and fans online called on DisCon III to comment, or even to rescind Weisskopf’s guest of honor invitation. DisCon initially responded by posting a statement on Twitter on February 16 that read simply “We acknowledge the community’s concerns regarding Baen Books’ forums. We are monitoring the ongoing situation.” That same day, Weisskopf announced to forum participants that Baen’s Bar would be going on hiatus, saying that the break would be, “As brief as is possible. But no, not sure yet how brief that brief will be.”
While you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.
©Locus Magazine. Copyrighted material may not be republished without permission of LSFF.