Weisskopf Removed As DisCon III Guest of Honor

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/about/inclusion/.

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.”


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25 thoughts on “Weisskopf Removed As DisCon III Guest of Honor

  • February 19, 2021 at 1:15 pm
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    The statement from the DisCon committee was odd; it seemed to allege “abusive _behavior_,” but the issue seemed to be lack of censorship of _writing_ by others (emphasis added).

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    • February 19, 2021 at 6:09 pm
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      None of that really matters, She has the wrong politics and they would find another excuse to remove her if that that one.

      I guarantee I can scour any of their forums and find just as many hateful or even violent comments from alt left posters. But they’re ok with that. They are pro violence and hate so long as its directed and the people they consider “the baddies”. They worry about radicalization but don’t realize how far they themselves have been radicalized.

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      • February 26, 2021 at 11:14 am
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        I very much agree. Violence is a common theme on many leftest forums. There was more hate and violence suggestions on D.U. than I have ever seen on any comic con.

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  • February 19, 2021 at 6:03 pm
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    So Terri was purged for not bending the Knee enough? Well that just reinforced my decision made after
    the 2016 Worldcon to never attend again,>

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  • February 20, 2021 at 8:19 am
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    It would be nice to know just what was said that was “violent and hostile.”

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  • February 20, 2021 at 6:26 pm
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    Once again, it is imperative to note the negative consequences to Science Fiction as a whole that this has done. Six of the Baen’s Bar forums have operated for over twenty years as the 1632 and Universe critique groups. In that time, we have produced over 150 SFWA-qualified authors whose first published fiction was in the Grantville Gazette and workshopped on Baen’s Bar. Several of those authors have gone on to be nominated for awards, been NYT or Amazon Best Sellers, and have had careers as writers in our field. Until such time as Toni Weisskopf brings back the Bar, we are unable to function as one of the longest lasting professional critique groups in SFF. I hope everybody is happy with the fact that hundreds (!!) of people have been damaged here.

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  • February 20, 2021 at 7:04 pm
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    I find the handling of this decision absolutely inappropriate. First, some new kid on the block with a Patreon account writes a bit piece on a long-time, well-respected editor of a book publisher who dares to publish good writing with no regard to the writer’s political position. All of a sudden she’s the Antichrist? Ever hear of “due process” people?

    To believe that Toni was monitoring and controlling the day to day conversations on a fan forum is ludicrous! She had a business to run. As soon as she was advised of the problem, she shut down the bar to conduct an investigation. Did you give her time to do that? Oh no! Guilt by association was good enough for you. One self-published account of cherry-picked quotes from *other people*! Not anything that Toni herself has said. You caved to electronic bullying. And the damage you have done to the Science Fiction community as a whole is incredible! You haven’t even begun to assess that damage!

    This whole idea of bringing personal politics into our community, is what will destroy us. You don’t have to like every book that’s published. Don’t it them! But some people do like other styles from your preference. You don’t have a right to silence them! We don’t have a “Thought Police”. People have a right to their own opinions.

    And before you decide that I’m some right-wing, insurrectionist nutter, I suggest you take a minute to check out my very open and public Facebook page, or ask anyone who knows me. I’ve been around in Fandom for a long time now. I’ve known Toni Weisskopf for at least thirty years. She’s no more an advocate of violence and insurrection than Pope Francis is. Mr Patreon attacked her because she dares to publish things he doesn’t approve of. Because of that, he believes that she shares the ideologies of those authors. She believes in their right to be published. It’s the American Way.

    I won’t be going to DisCon III. And that makes me sad, because I miss going to cons, and I was really stoked about going to Worldcon this year. You already damaged good people with your Hugo mess. This is just another sign of incompetence in my book.

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  • February 20, 2021 at 7:15 pm
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    Well, another con off the list of ones I will attend. Just love how some of you concom clowns will try, convict and sentence someone on the word of some hack, bitter because he got a manuscript rejected.

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  • February 20, 2021 at 7:55 pm
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    Sad and disappointing that the action taken appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the current cancel mob, as the allegations don’t seem to been properly investigated. Sci Fi fans have long memories and highly value fairness, as well lawful free speech. Too bad to see an organization like this proceed down such a slippery slope.

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  • February 20, 2021 at 9:14 pm
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    In the entire eighty plus years of your community, members talked amongst themselves. Sometimes they argued. Sometimes they say things inside their ‘community’ that might indeed look bad if someone wants to take some excerpts and make it seem as if something is going on.

    Something was going on- free speech.
    You’re either for it or against it. If you can see it, you can have your own opinion. If you can’t, well, no more interaction with others. Now you have made your position clear, bye-bye.

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  • February 20, 2021 at 9:38 pm
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    Oh what a load of horse dung.

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  • February 21, 2021 at 1:50 pm
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    Toni Weisskopf is a well known, and well respected, award winning author and publisher. I have read Sanford’s article and disagree with his assumptions. I have also read Eric Flint’ comments at https://ericflint.net/information/controversy-about-baens-bar/. Dis-inviting Toni as guest speaker because of Sanford’s malicious and unfounded allegations based on a fan’s comments is ridiculous.

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  • February 21, 2021 at 5:12 pm
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    Feels wierd that Weisskopf is being punished for what other people said, particularly after she closed the forum.
    Have we got to the point where we punish people for being in the same room as someone we don’t like?

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  • February 21, 2021 at 6:08 pm
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    Well good thing I decided long ago to avoid the Woke world of WorldCon.

    Pathetic they used a cherry picked hit piece by a guy who was pissed his book didn’t get bought to make this choice.

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  • February 22, 2021 at 10:26 am
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    The preemptive actions of the DisCon/WorldCon committee by kowtowing to the collective hysteria of a vocal minority’s non-researched knee-jerk reaction to a smear article has earned them another tiny loss of income, namely my attendance fees.

    I want no part in a convention, particularly a literary science fiction convention, that reacts without doing any research.

    This is not Cancel culture, this is me and others who actually look at both sides of an issue before making a though out and measured decision. By voting with our wallets.

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  • February 22, 2021 at 12:06 pm
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    Contrary to some of the posts above, I do not think Toni was dismissed because of her personal political beliefs, which I gather are Libertarian. I think she was blocked because the con chair buys into the cancel culture, which believes in white hats and black hats, in pure good and pure evil. Toni. a fine editor and a fine person, was dismissed not because she advocates violence, not because she agrees with those who advocate violence, not even because she allow people who agree with those who advocate violence a place to speak. She was dismissed because she did not wear the white hat.

    In the cancel culture, you only get one chance. If you ever do anything “bad”, you’re canceled, and no second chances. It happened to Al Franken for kissing a woman (who said “yes” but didn’t like it). It has happened to teachers who used the N word while trying to explain to students why they should never used the N word. It has happened to Jews who refuse to support rocket attacks on Israel. It’s crazy. The far right is even more crazy, to be sure. But as an avowed leftist, it saddens me that that some people on my side can be just as fantical.

    I wonder if Discon would have have been as quick to cancel Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, or Fletcher Pratt. Thinking about what they did to John W. Campbell, I suspect the answer is yes.

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    • February 23, 2021 at 12:13 pm
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      I agree with the above comments. Another controversial writer who was a Worldcon GOH, and one who I got to meet several times was Harlan Ellison. Never got to meet Robert Heinlein, nor Fletcher Pratt, but I did get to meet Poul Anderson.
      Even though he was controversial, Harlan Ellison was a brilliant person.
      I actually believe that Toni Weisskopf did the right thing by taking down the discussion board. From what I have been able to determine, she had little to do with what was being said there. It is sad that conventions have to be politically correct now a days.

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  • February 23, 2021 at 9:32 am
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    My wife and I were very active in Fandom in the 70’s and 80’s, she was a Guest of Honor at several cons, but Science Fiction is dead and buried and I no longer see anything that resembles what I knew and loved. I’ll never attend another con and have pretty much given up reading anything put out these days as it’s either zombies, witches or political propaganda. In those days we prized true diversity, Fandom was open to anyone, these days one must pass a political listhmus test or be cancelled, Fandom is over, stick a fork in it as they say.

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  • February 28, 2021 at 9:10 am
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    The comments to this article are some of the most repugnant, disingenuous statements I’ve ever read. People arguing that it’s censorship to repudiate statements of racism and calls to violence. Claims that “leftist” boards are just as bad in some lame attempt at whataboutism. DiscCon III was right to disinvite Weisskopf, they likely never should have named her as GoH in the first place, and it is my strong hope that the persistent vein of hatred that exists in the science-fiction/fantasy fan community under the lie of “free speech” be exterminated once and for all.

    Reply

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