Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Archon Does Itself a Disservice by Disinviting Tim Bolgeo

by Stephanie Osborn

The Elements of Modern Storytelling series will resume next week. Meanwhile, there's something else I wanted to touch on.

See, there's been another little "kerfuffle," I guess. 

Only this one hit close to home. I watched, helpless, as a dear friend's name and reputation were dragged through the mud.

I've known Tim Bolgeo for some years now. He is often called "Uncle Timmy" in Southern SF fandom, and for a reason: he's just an absolute sweetheart that everybody knows, and everybody loves. He's a diehard SF fan, has started more conventions around the Southeastern US than I can name. He's a gruff teddy bear of a man that I hug every time I see. He is a very special friend, an advisor in my writing career, and has helped me, an older handicapped female (with Cherokee as well as Celtic antecedents) get established as an author.

Yet this same man has been called racist, misogynist, and worse, and then the invitation for him to be the Fan Guest of Honor at Archon in St. Louis was revoked, and his name and image erased from their website as if it had never been.

For more details, and the general reaction among the writing community, Jason Cordova has probably summarized it best on his blog here. (Jason is a friend and colleague also. We've been on a few panels together at conventions.)

Uncle Timmy is not some redneck unlearned hillbilly. He is a nuclear engineer who made a successful career at the Tennessee Valley Authority, working on nuclear reactors, only recently retired. He is a thinking man. He puts out a newsletter of information, jokes, and other such that he and his readers (I'm one) run across, and he discusses them, and he invites and prints discussion by his readers on that information. Sometimes this involves putting a distasteful story into the newsletter so that he can point out a fallacy. Somehow some anonymous person took a couple of these and twisted them around to make it look like Uncle Timmy believed that tripe AND AGREED WITH IT.

Nothing could be farther from the truth -- I've had any number of conversations with Timmy, and he is fair-minded, "color blind," and I have never, EVER, heard the word "bigot" used in the same sentence with his name until today. And yes, I said today. Insofar as I have been able to determine, from the original protest to the revocation of the invitation took less than 24 hrs. To say that I am dismayed and dumbfounded is a massive understatement. To say that I am disappointed in Archon's convention committee is putting it mildly.

This, combined with similar events of the last year, would indicate to me that science fiction fandom seems to be tearing itself apart. To see Uncle Timmy thus smeared demonstrates to me that there is some bizarre kind of ideological zombie apocalypse occurring. 

AND, given the fact that the same person who did this diabolical twisting has threatened to provide the same "scrutiny" to every guest in future, means that MY future may lie in staying home and writing, and not bothering with going to cons to visit my fans anymore. I really don't have the time or the energy to waste on vain attempts to disassemble some outre strawman effigy of myself that some "fans" (oh how I use that word loosely here) seem intent upon creating of all public figures, just before burning them on a pyre. Don't get me wrong; I like interacting with my fans. But if some little subset of the attendees is more interested in trying to tear down people they don't even know, and if their voices are heard more than the people who know better? Yes, it may well come to that. I already know that I have no interest in attending this Archon. I have no intention of subjecting myself to such abuse and hate.
Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.
~~Lois McMaster Bujold, "A Civil Campaign", 1999

Don't worry, Uncle Timmy. They may have slung mud and worse at your reputation, but those of us who know you know that your honor is firmly intact.

~Stephanie Osborn


Unknown said...

Hear Here! Well said!

Vila said...

You tell 'em, Sister!I'm so mad about this that I don't trust myself to retain my manners!

Tim.McNabb said...

Decades ago I was on the Archon committee - I am embarrassed.

Stephanie Osborn said...

Thank you, James.

Vila, I know the feeling. I spent 6 hours yesterday afternoon, as all this was unfolding, trying to watch a 1:45 production of Hound of the Baskervilles, looking for writing inspiration for my Displaced Detective books. In that whole time I managed to watch about 35 minutes of the movie.

Tim, hey hon. Not your fault. No reason for you to be embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

I believe Archon should be ashamed of themselves, Stephanie. They didn't do the right thing here; they should've at least asked to see the "offending" blog posts in context.

I feel sorry for Mr. Bolgeo. He didn't deserve this.

As for Archon, well, they brought this nonsense on themselves. I feel safe in saying that this is one convention I never plan to participate in, ever, due to their craven behavior in disinviting Mr. Bolgeo.


Anonymous said...

All these things you say regarding Mr Bolgeo's character may be true. But as a big SF fan who's trying to understand the reasons for latest "kerfuffle", I'm wondering why you didn't address the reason for the issue: Mr Bolgeo's writings for Revenge of Hump Day.

Stephanie Osborn said...

I did. Quite plainly. I quote: "Sometimes this involves putting a distasteful story into the newsletter so that he can point out a fallacy."

Do you mean to tell me you have never told a distasteful story in order to point out the problem with the logic, or the attitude? Of course you have. We all have. This is no more nor less than what Timmy did.

Falconsword said...

In an era when twits toss copies of Mark Twains works on the fire to satisfy the cult of political correct because he used language and parlance of the day to point out the foolishness of how blacks were treated, this doesn't surprise me in the least.

As our public and private discourse continues to degenerate, its only a matter of time before someone suggests public execution for the offenders.

Unknown said...

I wonder just why 'a big SF fan' finds it necessary to snipe from anonymity. You don't get much bigger SF fans than Timmy Bolego, and I'm guessing this vicious attack had more to do with the fact that that he wasn't just the friend and fan of only the self elected 'pure' of the far left wing. He'd made the mistake of being friendly, tolerant and accepting of the other 90%. Evul! He be purged! ;-/. Even a real bona fide racist (which he is not) - who had also done services to fandom - apparently by broad testimony regardless of race, sex, or orientation - deserves better. Actually, much better because they've risen above their own prejudices... something which is a great achievement to celebrated and encouraged- which means the vicious nutters argument is void, whether it is true or not. So Archon - and our anonymous coward are off base by several miles. We can't give them an accuracy award, or a common sense award. Or a decency award. What about 'participation'? That will make them feel better I am sure.

Amanda Green said...

I do so love anonymous postings. Can you say "troll"? First of all, the commenter moved the goal posts. Of course, so did the troll who started the attack on Uncle Timmy. The so-called writings weren't his. They were jokes sent to him by others. Were some in bad taste? Sure. Did some make me squirm inside? Absolutely. But none of them have anything to do with what Uncle Timmy has done for fandom or for how he has helped advance the careers of a number of authors. It is a shame that the concom chose to cave to the attackers instead of trying to open a dialog. Not that I believe the attackers wanted a dialog. That's not their style.

Keith Glass said...

When I was a cadet, amongst other things, were were taught personal responsibility. Which meant, if you chose to say or write stood behind your words. Anonymous sniping, anonymous commenting,anonymous complaints.... are the signs of a weak and unethical person. If you cannot show the courage to call ANYONE out, publicly, you're a coward, both moral and physical.... and you should be utterly ignored.

Now, to the question of Uncle Timmy. I've never met the man, face-to-face, but have known him online for years, and I categorically state that this is a clear case of character assassination by careful editing and presentation out-of-context.

I will ALSO note that the stand;ard, and ethically correct solution to speech you don't like is MORE speech, not less speech and outright censorship, which was done to Uncle Timmy.

To both "Anonymous" and "Em Jay See Ess": you're both cowards and awful people. Remember this: in due time, what you have done, will return to you ten-fold. And all of US will merely feel......schadenfreude.

Stephanie Osborn said...

Additional blogs on the subject (sorry, y'all, for some reason Blogger won't let me make these link):

Stephanie Osborn said...


Unknown said...

I would just like to state my opinion of why the ezine came under such vitriolic attack. It dared to question leftist politics and the gospel of global warming. I see why you hate politics Stephanie. Unfortunately, these people will force it upon you and will not respect your withdrawal from the discussion. Then, if you dare to disagree with the orthodoxy, they will excoriate you. It's a sad day for science fiction. There is not IDIC, they will only "tolerate" your conformity. I feel like I'm stuck in some sort of Orwellian nightmare sometimes.

Unknown said...

Well said.

While the fans and attendees of Archon feel they may have "won" something with the ConCom decision. Seemingly in their favor, I do give credit to the Archon ConCom for very much admitting that this decision is a lose-lose outcome.

It's a shame that the misguided vocal fans that joined the mob don't trully understand what those words mean.

And for the Vocal Archon Anti-Timmy Trolls: because I Champion Uncle Timmy does not make me a racist nor racist sympathizer. I does make me an idiocist, and y'all fall into the idiot catagory by default due to your words and actions.

MOGS said...

Organized fandom runs the risk of pushing itself into irrelevance through sophistry. Once something gets politicized, it's rare that it ever finds its way back; some might say that by the time it becomes this obvious to the wider world, it's already too late.

Anonymous said...

The only way to stop people like this is to bring a lawsuit against them. This clearly falls under Defamation law and there's clear proof of harm.

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