Fan Service

"When I moved here from the west coast," said Marlin May, a black, homosexual SF fan who I met first on Twitter, and who compared "coming out" as an SF fan to "coming out" as gay, "I didn't know a lot of people. But when I started going to con[vention]s here, I felt like I was home. I was back where I belong."

It was a sentiment I heard over and over again from people at Arisia, New England's Largest Science Fiction Convention (attendance: about 3,000). On one panel, the moderator opined that cons are “where we seem to fit. In other places is where we're playing roles,” with the deliberate irony that the convention was full of role playing games. One woman I talked to referred to Arisia specifically as a “lifestyle con”. This was a convention run by fans for fans to come and hang out and play and fuck. Which helped explain the lack of corporate presence that one finds at your average comic book convention. There were no booths for major publishers here, no b-grade sci-fi actors being paid for autographs, no developers giving advanced previews of their latest video game offering. A panel on the future of Doctor Who, which at New York or San Diego Comic-Con would have been made up of writers, producers, and/or stars of the TV show, was instead made up entirely of fans. The moderator began “Well, we've only got fifteen seconds of footage to go on, so I'm not sure what we're going to talk about,” and then the panelists started talking about their favorite episodes of the show instead. Most of the panels were simply manned by other fans, who didn't seem any more qualified to talk about a given subject then those in the audience, which was probably why the audience felt so entitled to give their own opinions at length whenever the mood arose, as if everyone was part of the panel.

Among the entertainment offerings, along with movie and tv show screenings, there was a comedic stage show lovingly parodying the old time radio programs of the 30's and 40's, in which half of the jokes were not jokes at all but merely references to geeky media, lines drawn from this or that tv show, movie, book or video game, thrown out to thunderous laughter and applause. There were many panels about and performances of something called 'filk' music, which is basically folk music about geeky subjects designed so anyone can come and sing along. There was also a "pagan mythpunk singer-songwriter" with a wonderful voice who, in one of three performances at the con, dressed up as a pirate and sang a whole set of pirate songs, depicting romanticized tales of girl pirates sailing the high seas and getting laid by selkies.

And there were the costumes, so many costumes, thousands of hours of work represented in stunning recreations of carefully embroidered Victorian hoop dresses, leather-and-steel-clad post-apocalyptic warriors, elves in cloaks and pointy ears, uniforms from every space opera TV show or movie, anime characters in long, tight-fitting coats. And, the Steampunk fad in full swing, there were more goggles and corsets than I could count. One man was dressed as a "pony-monkey", his full body suit covered in sewn-on parts of stuffed animal monkeys or ponies which he said took him 100 hours to put together. It was a reference to a song by geek-beloved musician Jonathan Coultan, and people would quote lyrics at him as they walked by. Saturday night culminated in a “masquerade competition” in which each participant came out and performed a little skit based around their costume. An hour in I ducked out to see the movie Moon being screened in another room and when I came back after, the masquerade was still going on.

The thing that surprised me the most, though, was that many of the panels had nothing to do at all with science fiction or fantasy, the ostensible topic of the convention. The term 'lifestyle' was apropos; there were at least five panels on polyamory, panels on 'alternative marriages', BDSM, paganism, gender, flirting, “coming out”, “your kink is OK”, and “Relationships 101,” among others. In one panel, a panelist talked about how hard she'd pushed to get furries brought into the mainstream of fandom, and a furry in the audience in homemade fox-ears and bushy tail, mewled appreciatively. (A larger convention, I-CON, which takes place on Long Island, has a whole track of nothing but furry programming.) A panel that was supposed to be about why fandom appeals to so many people with “alternative lifestyles” quickly devolved into a discussion about how to explain to your children about your polyamorous or BDSM relationship. Afterwards, I felt like I needed a shower. (This is not intolerance. I tolerate anything as long as it's between consenting adults. That doesn't mean it doesn't gross me out.)

I spent most of the con trying to understand exactly why, rather than feeling like I belonged, I felt extremely uncomfortable, even repulsed. I had long conversations with people in which they told me flat out, “You're one of us. You know all about Doctor Who and program computers and argue about fantasy novels, and you can be in denial about it, but you're one of us.” They even went so far as to say that people who were really obsessive about anything, say, baseball stats or engineering or philosophy were really fans (or, dear lord, fen) at heart. A panel on "psychology and fandom" spent a lot of its time talking about the psychology of intelligent people, of passionate people, as if these traits and fandom were mutually inclusive, even as they also acknowledged that not all smart people were fans, and danced around the idea (without ever explicitly stating it) that the intense desire to escape into a fantasy world was borne of unhappiness and loneliness.

I'll be the first to tell you that there's nothing wrong with escaping into a fantasy world every once and a while. But I can't help but balk at fantasy as a lifestyle, at people who recreate themselves and their lives so that they can spend as much time as possible inside a fictional world. Lots of people at this con also go to RenFair and Burning Man and participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism. Lots of them were or are into the "goth" scene. (Two people described SteamPunk as goths who had discovered brown.) Their minds have defected, at least on some level, from the world of contemporary adults to a different world in which their identities can be fictionalized, romanticized, idealized, in which the rules and restrictions of modern society are gleefully thrown off. And when they gather together there's a certain prickly cliquishness that crops up. One audience member at a panel opined at length how fans need to give up their sense of entitlement and superiority so that they can reach out to the general public, the people fans often deride as "mundanes". Fans are justifiably defensive of their lifestyle because they know that much of the public at large recoils from their behavior.

So why do I feel so uncomfortable here? Because I feel like they've taken cultural touchstones, things that I love, and turned them into holy relics, defined entire lives by their fictional worlds. They've done this with great flair and creativity and often humor and truckloads of passion. But it's the very essence of materialism. If you are not your wallet and you are not your car then you are also not your hand-sewn hoop dress, your goggles, your furry ears, your fangs, or your proton cannon. You are not a Na'vi or a Starfleet officer or an Air Bender or a cartoon cat no matter how much you want to be. Which realization, in turn, forces me to take a hard look at myself. I often call myself a “book person”, I'm a book blogger, I read constantly, though I tend to buy books faster than I read them, and I fiend for used bookstores where I can turn up cheap treasures. These are traits anyone at Arisia would instantly recognize as those of a geek, a fan. In fact, this kind of obsessive passion about something and self-identification with it would be the very definition of a geek or a fan for many of the people I talked with. Which makes me wonder if this too isn't a form of materialism, whether it's healthy to define myself by any objects, even my beloved books. I am not my books. I am not even my desire for books. At what point does the passion stop being a service to you, and you start being a service to the passion?

See my whole Arisia photo album

Comments

you need to update this post

you need to update this post noting that, ahem, "I told you so."

or to make a longer point

the thing about it is, you shouldn't be surprised that fandom is what it is. not only because i've been telling you for years that con culture has nothing at all to do with what it is allegedly about and is really just an excuse for ugly people with completely undeveloped interpersonal skills to get dressed up like pirates and fuck attractive abuse survivors who mistakenly get an ego boost from turning on dorks. And the reason all of this alternative lifestyle nonsense shows up here is that fucked up antisocial sexual behaviors and fucked up antisocial people can find validation in the anything goes, unanalysed free for all of a building full of adults who have failed to figure out how to live like grown ups.

Juvenalia, Maturity, Acceptance and Castigation

1. Mr. Rosenfield. My last name is May - please correct it a.s.a.p.

2. Mr. Quackenbush - you seem to have confused being bitter, jaded and tragically conventional with growing up, assuming that you are to be taken as an exemplar of an adult, well-adjusted, human being.

Using you as the example, I claim that there is nothing particularly adult about wallowing in misanthropy. I claim that mindlessly conforming to demonstrably broken social norms is not a reasonable hallmark of maturity. I claim that initiating an unprovoked attack upon those who have done you no harm is, in fact, juvenile.

Unless, there is some reason. One wonders what you think this community of people *did* to you. Is there some basis for the vitriol you oh, so, thoughtfully spew? I would love to know.

To me, your reaction (commenting on physical attractiveness? really?) smacks of something akin to the contra-positive of schadenfreude, where the happiness of others causes you to be miserable. Well, more miserable than you already are.

You look upon a group of people who, at no cost to others, have crafted their own admittedly nonstandard way of navigating life, and you find them deserving of nothing more than your derision and castigation.

Perhaps that's all you have to offer the world.

fuck you asshole

this notion that "it's not hurting anybody" is a boondoggle that I don't buy. my beef isn't with people "navigating life" in a "nonstandard way." that's bullshit. my beef is with people like you insisting that the normalization of a fucked up social system that's specifically defiant of any attempt to hold people accountable to a basic standard of ethical behavior through this nonsense about it being between "consenting adults." because the fact of the matter is that in the darker corners of fandom where this polyamory bullshit is flourishing and people are lifestyling BDSM fantasies 24/7, people are being exploited. psychically damaged individuals are being taken advantage of by predators, and the very worst of male power fantasies are being played out by groups of guys who like to talk big about equality but who are every bit as misogynistic and fucking evil as the jocks that used to beat them up for their lunch money in middle school. one does not have to look very hard to find this stuff. It's there in the "racefail" wars raging around the internet the last couple of years, wherein fandom as a subculture has revealed the utter inability to function possessed of many of its members. and the problem with fandom is that the community says to these people, hey you're broken and thats ok with us. don't worry about developing some self esteem and learning how to interact with other human beings, because we're going to build a fantasy world where other similarly disfunctional people will get together in a great big circle jerk of mental illness and gladhanding self-congratulation and convince eachother that it's not what's wrong with us, it's what's wrong with the rest of the world. this attitude then breeds a misplaced and self-perpetuating elitism that by itself wouldn't bother me all that much except that people get hurt because they don't have the psychic armor to take care of themselves in this free for all, and the result is an open market place for predators who nobody is willing to condemn because "hey man, it's between consenting adults, who are you to judge..." Add to that the weird elements of classist materialism that eric rightly points out and you have in fandom a microcosm of all the worst elements of modern society being operated by a group of people who think that this world they've created is something to actually be celebrated. all that time and money and energy that could be spent doing something worthwhile instead being fed into the coffers of mammon in the service of an aesthetic that is only dubious at best, and you're right the whole thing annoys me.

as for my being bitter and jaded, I'll give you that one. tragically conventional? fuck you. as for growing up, that means living in the real world and learning how to cope with it. i'm sorry if that's a difficult concept for you to grasp, but again, fuck you.

See, this is where your

See, this is where your vitriol does you a disservice, J. Because you're making some interesting points here, but you're talking in sweeping terms that don't allow for any discourse. For example, even at one of the alternative lifestyle panels I went to, one of the panelists pointed out that there were "good bdsm scenes" and "bad bdsm scenes" and being able to tell the difference and recognize warning signs is an important skill. Which is to say that even in these scenes there are people who recognize that there are predators. But that doesn't mean you're wrong about there being gladhandling of mental illness in fandom. And that's the thing, you might be able to create a real dialog about this if you weren't lacing what you were saying with insults and curses. Instead you're turning the whole thing into a shouting match. And a shouting match doesn't accomplish anything except giving everyone a sore throat.

Seriously, this gets to me again and again. You're really smart and you have excellent observations but you shoot yourself in the foot with your tone. Again and again.

bah

there's no dialog to be had with a dumb mother fucker like that. or did you not notice that yr buddy insulted me repeatedly in lieu of trying to actually make a point.

Dude, he was responding to

Dude, he was responding to you throwing out insults left and right about his whole community. That's what I'm saying, by your tone you bring down the level of discourse, even when you're saying smart things.

I mean, seriously, you can't

I mean, seriously, you can't be shocked when people insult you when you've insulted them first.

meh

who says i'm shocked? and yeah I tossed out insults at his whole community. so what? that precludes him from responding to the substance of what I said? I don't mind being insulted, so long as that's not all that's going on. the fact is there's just no talking to these people. they're practically cult members. its as useful to argue substance with them as it is to try to talk to Lyndon Larouche street team members or Glen Beck fans. accuse me of lowering the level of discourse all you want. i'm not the one defending the people who come up with nonsense like the Open Source Boob Project.

The interesting thing about

The interesting thing about the Open Source Boob Project is that there was a lot of outcry about it from within the community as well as outside of it. But you're right to point that out as a troubling indicator of something.

And this is the thing, I've met enough perfectly reasonable people who consider themselves part of the community to know that you're wrong about them being "practically cult members". And the first con I went to, ReaderCon, was nothing but awesome. But you're right that there's lots of disturbing trends that pop up within the community, and even people in it widely acknowledge that there's a disproportionate number of people in it who have social problems and, further, asberger's syndrome. And there are people who went to ReaderCon who would never consider going to a con like Arisia.

This is what's interesting to me. Here are people who really like a lot of the same things that I really like; Doctor Who, Douglas Adams, Miyazaki, mythology and folklore, text adventure games, etc etc. And yet they've built their social lives around those things in a way I haven't and wouldn't. They consider me one of them, though I don't know that I do. They would probably call you a self-hating geek if they knew the kind of shit you were into. What does it say about me that they like what I like? What does it say about them? These are interesting questions to me.

Honestly, I don't think you've considered fandom deeply enough. You went to one con, saw some nonsense online and were so utterly repulsed that you spew invective at the mere mention of the scene. There's more going on here than you give them credit for, even if you're right that there's a lot of unhealthy behavior as well. But seriously, not everyone in the scene is a socially arrested polyamorous wiccan into furry gimping with underage boys.

Let's use a comparison. Indie music. I spent some time in the indie music scene here in New York. There was a large portion of indie musicians who were half-illiterate drug addicts with self-delusions of grandeur, who thought they had real deep thoughts about America being like ancient Rome and constantly cheated on their partners with every groupie they could get their paws on. I know you know what I'm talking about. That exists. That's even prevalent. But it doesn't mean that all indie musicians are like that or even approve of that. It also doesn't mean that when they meet people like that they can't have a meaningful conversation with them, and even try to express to them why their behavior makes them uncomfortable. And it doesn't mean that indie music fans are all douchebags. Even if a lot of them are. (And a lot of them are, again, I know you know what I'm talking about.) And even if some of the music they like is made by douchebags.

Does that make any sense?

in all fairness

i have the same problem with the indie rock scene that I have with fandom. it's insular, there's a lot of acceptance of unacceptable behavior based on a person's status in the subculture. the distinction i'd make is that there are a lot of people who are really into indie rock who can't fucking stand scenesters and make the same sorts of comments about scenester bullshit that I'm making about fandom. However, very rarely will indie scenesters come out of the woodwork and start defending the scene against such criticism. the people who are paying attention and are a part of what's going on generally will agree with such criticisms and lament that it goes on. the fan scene doesn't seem to have that level of self-awareness about itself although you're right there's some of it. the difference is that there's much more social sanctioning that goes on in indie rock than you see in fandom. Scenesters will come together and protest people that behave badly, work to keep bad actors off of bills, talk trash from the stage, etc. In fandom, granted there's some harping on the internet, but many of those people seem to be rather fringe voices, and for all the criticism of Harlan Ellison's bad behavior, for example, there doesn't ever seem to be a suggestion that he actually be sanctioned for it. The same with the actors in the racefail debacle. Or theferret. On the contrary, any such criticism will produce a gaggle of nincompoops coming out of the woodwork to defend purely indefensible behavior. also, you forget that the neighborhood i lived in in SeaTac was con central because of all the hotels. what's interesting is that there were some cons that were clearly outside "fandom" and some that were engaged in ridiculous levels of it.

the most important point, tho, is that very few people in the indie rock scene will hold up those problems of indie rock as the strengths of the scene. everybody recognizes that they're problems. fandom, on the other hand, is actively involved in reaching out and embracing the problematic elements. Fandom specifically grants official sanction to polyamory with the prevalence of poly clinics at cons all over the place. this is not a fluke, it happens repeatedly. this all goes to probably the most baffling element of it all, which is the issue of what on earth alternative sexual lifestyles have to do with SF. Indie rock crap about sex and drugs at least makes sense because sex drugs and rock and roll are permanent fixtures of the counterculture. what having a panel on getting dressed up like a dog and having sex with someone dressed as a monkey has to do with SF novels, tv, movies, role playing games, fantasy art, or anything like that is beyond me OTHER than the fact that this is stuff is all a part of a general avoidance of reality through escape into fantasy. Granted, I don't have the same beef with furries, who are basically harmless, as i do with BDSM 24/7 lifestylers and the poly folks. But the problem is that the community as a whole has failed to make the distinction between tolerance and acceptance. Granted, these people, even the scumbags have to be tolerated to a certain extent by all communities. They can only really be dealt with through countervailing argument and informal social control. Which is what Indie rock scenesters do when a scene is functioning. But fandom goes out of its way to try to attract such people, which grants the imprimatur of not just tolerance but advocacy. As such the fan community actively praises bad behavior and comes to the aid of those who find themselves criticized, all under this rubric of acceptance that makes no sense and doesn't have anything at all to do with the ostensible reason for the community.

At the same time, all such subcultures are subject to the criticism of self-ghettoization which in my mind is indefensible and is strong evidence of baseline mental damage. finally, this is the problem. there should be no issue with appreciating a certain aesthetic value without having to shape one's lifestyle around it. people that do shape their lives around a particular aesthetic are narrowing the purview of their experience of life in a way that i think is open to real criticism. the fact that both indie rock and fandom, although moreso i think fandom, try to do this and then close ranks behind them is a sign that something fucked up is going on and even the internal reformers are not going to accept that sort of criticism, when in fact its' this tribal urge to hook your identity to this bullshit and then stamp yourself with a label that leads to the very problems that are being talked about because this open acceptance of rotten tomatoes is founded on the notions of "us and them."

I just don't take arguments to the contrary seriously because it seems that nobody inside either scene is being truly critical in their appraisal of the situation. This is not the case in more stable counter cultures (hardcore punk, for example, with their high profile internal critics like Ian McKaye, Jello Biafra, and similar people) that aren't as open to such criticism, albeit they're still overly tribal for my tastes.

That may be one of the best

That may be one of the best things I've ever read about fandom.

don't sound so surprised

i'm usually right about stuff if i've had the time to think it through in depth.

Yes!

But that's my whole point! If you start with that tone then everyone can see what you're saying and why!

sneering at things you

sneering at things you disapprove of is time honored as a method of avoiding frustrating conversations with idiots. i'm too old to waste my time on internet fights with people who i think are unlikely to pay attention to what i'm saying.

No, really

Usually your tone does a severe injustice to your intelligence and your sensitivity. It makes you look bad, and it makes you look like you're not a person who can be taken seriously or dealt with rationally to a lot of people.

You don't have to waste your time on Internet fights with anyone. That doesn't mean you shouldn't state your position clearly and reasonably, rather than resorting to name-calling. Be Jon Stewart, not Rush Limbaugh, you know?

i disagree. i think it just

i disagree. i think it just bugs you because i piss off your friends sometimes.

And how long do you think

And how long do you think he's going to let that happen? Eventually, either he's going to ostracize you for being a giant ass, or he's not going to come to your aid when someone moves to punch you in the mouth. For srs.

When "discussion" is opened up in such a hostile fashion (like you did), most folks interpret that to mean His Mind Is Already Closed. There are plenty of ways to express disagreement without resorting to generalizations and insults. Normal, ethical, fucked up, wierd... All subjective terms. There's no One Right Way To Live Life that works for everyone.

Mr. May gave you a level response, which is more than you deserve, IMO. Your friend E.R. has been trying to tell you to Take A Chill Pill.

I am telling you to go spend some time with a mirror, because this branch says a hell of a lot more about you than it does about anyone else.

my problem in a nutshell

con culture is full of people like you who believe "There's no One Right Way To Live Life that works for everyone" is true and feel entitled to try to foist that view on other people without even making an attempt at backing it up. While it may be true that there is not one right way to live life, there are most certainly wrong ways to live life. polyamory and 24/7 slave play are two of those wrong ways.

i know your come back, so don't bother. you're going to say "who are you to judge what goes on between consenting adults?"

the answer to that question is a lot simpler than you think it is, and in fact by even asking it you are begging the question.

frankly, there was nothing at all "level" about May's response.

finally, there is nothing at all subjective about the terms "normal, ethical, fucked up, weird." The terms are as objective as anything else in language. The value judgments, I'll grant you, are judgments and therefore subjective, but they are grounded on objective facts that anyone who is half awake and paying attention can see. but that's not the problem I don't think, because my suspicion is that what you're really engaged in is a sort of moral relativism rooted not in reasoned analysis of what makes for good and bad, but rather in a rejection of the mainstream of our culture that's every bit as visceral and close minded as you're accusing me of being. Rather than fighting back against the stuff thats fucking horrible in society, you knuckle under and say "it's all subjective" and then shut down all potential dissent from your cowardly position of safe detachment by invoking the ironic superiority of asking "who are you to judge." That you fail to see the closedmindedness in this and proceed with the further unintentional irony of calling other people close minded is telling. Because you see I'm not being close minded. My opinions, and they are strongly held ones, are the result of diligent investigation and reflection on the visceral repulsion that cons and fandom generate for me. What I've ultimately realized is that it's precisely the relativism that you are so happily embracing and taking as a standpoint from which to criticize me that is the source of that revulsion. What you are perceiving as closemindedness is in fact the conviction that comes with having done the work rather than accepting a convenient position that i adopted as a matter of intellectual laziness such as your moral relativism. And that's what I find repulsive about cons and con goers, because moral relativism is dangerous and antisocial. if you need someone to explain why that is to you, then I can't help you. do the work. if fandom is as full of intelligent and insightful people as you are all constantly congratulating eachother about, it shouldn't be that hard.

or to put it another way

i don't think there's a tone line with jon stewart on one end and rush limbaugh on the other. it is very possible to be angry, call an asshole an asshole, and even be mean and not have that be a cloud to the substnace of what is being said. see for example the invective to be found coming from folks like Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Mojo Nixon etc. There is a place in discourse for anger and invective and using it does not distract from substance. To use your own example, was it wrong for Jon Stewart to make fun of Tucker Carlson's bow tie and announce that he wasn't going to be CNN's dancing monkey? no, it absolutely wasn't. I'm not going to tone down my rhetoric just because my opponents find it insulting. they're free to insult me back. but if they want to be insulting they have to be as substantive as I am in order to be taken seriously. If they fail to do so, I'm not going to waste my time doing their thinking for them. this is an internet blog and people are talking off the cuff. It's not parliament (who, by the way, still manage to make good use of invective during PMs questions).

Jon Stewart didn't start his

Jon Stewart didn't start his crossfire interview by saying "Tucker Carlson, you're a douche." He started by making carefully reasoned arguements and only started insulting Carlson when Carlson started acting like a jackass.

Listen, I'm culpable too. Lord knows I can't talk about Narrative Magazine or n+1 without bile coming out both sides of my mouth.

But look at it this way: how many authors that you like came out of fandom? Remember those Piers Anthony novels you loved as a kid? So you can't dismiss the entirety of fan culture out of hand, any more than you can dismiss all indie music. Which is why you shouldn't spew invective at a whole group of people because of the failings of a few of them. And yes you've made your point about the permissiveness of bad behavior in fandom. All the more reason you should encourage them to create the kinds of checks you're talking about.

Because whatever else you say about fans, they're FANS of media, of books. And in how many other corners are you going to find anyone that passionate about any books?

there's a distinction to be

there's a distinction to be made, indeed i think that needs to be made, between con culture on the one hand and con lifestylers on the other, and that distinction happens at the end of a spectrum. you said yourself that Arisia was more about TV and movies than it was about books, and it's just false to assert that being passionate about books, even a certain genre of books, needs to take the form of con culture. You know this yourself from being at ReaderCon, which I believe I described at the time as the exception that proves the rule. There are similar things that go on for Romance readers, Horror fans, and even Mystery fans have their conventions. What's weird about con culture is not what they're into. I like a lot of the stuff that they're into, you know that. Hell, I'm probably more into dumb manga than you are. my beef is with everything else that comes with that fandom.

and you didn't address my point about Bill Hicks or Carlin (or to name some more examples david letterman, William S. Burroughs, Voltaire, Mark Twain, Chuck Palahniuk, Malcolm X, Dave Sim, Jello Biafra, John Lydon, Thom Yorke, Oscar Wilde, Groucho Marx or, ahem, William Motherfucking Shakespeare for that matter) who demonstrate the important and effective use of invective in substantive criticism. I mean jesus, it's not like I'm being Dale Peck here and just tossing random insults with no foundation in reality. And I think the woodwork is starting to prove my point for me that there's just no talking to people, even in the measured and even tone you carefully adopted in this post.

some times you just have to call a spade a spade, and the fact of the matter here is that fucked up shit happens at SF conventions with the support and acceptance of the con subculture and that makes participation in that subculture suspect and worthy of harsh rebuke.

Beating a dead horse.

Let me start out by saying I'm doing this from my droid, so there will be typos.

Jason, you are flattering yourself a bit excessively with the comparisons you are making here. Really, you're the Voltaire / Wilde of Con satire? I think vitriol, yes righteous disgust should be applied, I don't object to that, but the form it takes for you seems to have crystallized some time in the late 90s. There is a severe immaturity in its form, one that betrays too much attachment, that chases every obscure thread of debate to its origins in the collective unconscious and batters it with a hammer, that embodies teenage insolence more than mature anger.

I really don't get why you cling to it with such fervor. I mean Wilde, Carlin, Voltaire, whoever, the basis of their anger inciting humor is exposing idiocy through wit. Even though we're speaking more of base rallying than anything, they cleverly made their enemies appear foolish. What the hell exactly do you think you're accomplishing and how?

I am really tired of watching you drag yourself through the back alley of pretentious angst, and here you are in full form. This is on a level with your hack job detailed fritique of Ayn Rand (Fenimore's Literary Offenses it ain't) in its snot nosed tone.

Seriously, I don't know how else to get this across. Your anger needs an editor. The writing it produces is ugly, and not in the good way.

Also, the fandom/polyamory link is mostly Heinlein, specifically Stranger in a Strange Land. I read that book recently for the simple reason that I hadn't and find it very creepy that anyone finds it inspiring. I felt extremely opressed by it, like I had just watched a friend get raped while someone whispered 'This is all for the best' in my ear.

this is a blog. it's not

this is a blog. it's not shakespeare or voltaire. i brought those guys up as a counter example to what eric was saying, that invective gets in the way of making a point. I disagreed and I used them as illustrations of people using invective effectively. That's the point i was making, and the only one, by bringing those writers up.

as for your characterization of the Ayn Rand critique as a Hack job, and generally characterizing what i do as pretentious angest, well, stop reading then if that's really how you feel. or put another way, go to hell.

Whatever

Don't think that I expected to reap any success here, but the 'yr buddy' aside you threw to Eric followed by the audacity you had to compare that sort of trite bullying to genuine satire was pretty sickening to me - not because 'oh how dare you' but because it is a sign of the decay of genius in the presence of excess ego.

You're a smart, talented motherfucker, but this amounts to little if you can't honestly assess criticism that's directed your way.

ok fair enough. i admit that

ok fair enough. i admit that I can be overly snide at times and I have a tendency to go nuclear over a few pet peeves. that having been said, my work on atlas shrugged has been very good so far, and I object to the idea that responding to personal attacks with personal attacks of my own is bullying. and again, i wasn't trying to say that anything I've said here is genuine satire. I was just disagreeing with eric that invective necessarily gets in the way of insight. if folks think i can use invective better or ought to use it in a different way, then sure, talk to me about it. but lately eric has been on this kick about it not being valid at all, and thathat's what i was responding to in bringing up people who used it will.

Personally speaking, I, as a

Personally speaking, I, as a fan, have no 'psychic' damage, or rather a healthy psyche, am not a furry, and have no problem with 'being a grown-up'. Although I find it amusing that you rail on an on about the 'social misfits' that make up convention-goers, and then compare yourself to the likes of John Lydon and William Shakespeare.

John Lydon, born of Irish Catholic Immigrants Afflicted with Spinal Meningitis, which left him unable to remember the first seven years of his life. Let me teach you something very quickly, punk rock was at it's core about alienation, social rebellion and shirking conventional morality. John Lydon himself has in interviews expressed a Peter Pan-esque refusal to grow up and become a responsible productive member of society. And I'm not just talking in his Sex Pistols days either, Public Image Limited was also about challenging social norms. Punk Rock was a counterculture, or 'alternative lifestyle' John Lydon would never have even been able to spew his trademark social revolutionary vitriol, if it weren't for Malcolm MacLaren, who was an owner of a Sex Shop in Picadilly Circus which catered to the BDSM Lifestyle.

William Shakespeare, who refused to hire women for his productions, choosing instead to dress young men up as women to perform the female roles. I don't think I need to go any further into that.

In summation Mr. Quackenbush, I suggest in the future typing your responses, and then walking away from the computer until you calm down so that you don't place your foot in your mouth by comparing yourself to the very type of people that you are attempting to condemn.

straw man the second

i have no problem with social misfits. I have a problem with people creating an environment where self destructive and/or predatory behavior is acceptable and encouraged. that is the immaturity. i don't give a fuck what clothes you wear or what books you like to read. i do care that you as a self-procclaimed functioning member of society have failed in your duty to your fellow human beings.

as for your analyses of Lydon and Shakespeare, you're really reaching.

Reaching on my analyses?

Reaching on my analyses? Hardly. I've stated Facts.

And I never said that there aren't predators in the con environment, but, do I accept and or encourage it? Far from it. Self-destructive behavior is not my concern. The key part of self-destruction is self. If someone chooses to engage in a behavior that is hurtful to themselves I, and in point of fact you, have no business telling them how to live their lives, offering to help them break a self-destructive cycle yes, but it is ultimately their decision to break such a pattern of behavior. As to Predators, there are predators in every facet of society, from politics, to business to religion. As human beings we are destined to have some form of predatory nature, it's how we got to the top of the food chain.

And My duty to my fellow human beings? Which human beings would those be? Because the last time I looked those same human beings that you claim I have failed in my duty to were quite well served when I was serving as a Peacekeeper in Bosnia with the Marines. Until you have taken fire in an effort to stop the wholesale slaughter by 'civilized' human beings like yourself, of a people whose ways were different, I would seriously reconsider your choice of words to someone you have never met and know nothing about.

You compare yourself to Voltaire and Carlin. You sir are neither funny nor profound. I personally would compare you to someone like Milosevic.

Wow, is there some kind of

Wow, is there some kind of variation of Godwin's law that includes Milosevic?

On this one, Marc, you're way off base.

see?

this is what you get when you try to be reasonable.

No way out

This jackass is hardly a litmus test on the subject of whether not toning down the polemic is effective. I mean, come on, he's playing the 'you're a dictator' and 'I'm a noble veteran' card.

i was just teasing eric. in

i was just teasing eric. in all seriousness tho, given the nature of the internet, people like that are why my default attitude is shoot first and apologize later if necessary.

Newsflash: If your "real

Newsflash: If your "real world" is free from abuse and misogyny and racism, how do I get there? Where is this magical - dare I say fantasy - land?

dog? meet pony.

dog? meet pony.

Re: the real world

You see, most of us do live in the real world, and conventions are our lovely escape from that. We in fandom are doctors, lawyers, scientists, Soldiers/veterans, firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other professionals. Many of us are married, and in stable, monogamous relationships. We wear normal clothes the rest of the time. We maintain households. We earn paychecks, save for retirement, balance our checkbooks, and interact just fine with normal society... when we have to.

So excuse me for enjoying a bit of escapism. Pardon this college-educated, real-world-savvy, cynical Veteran for taking a weekend to let my inner child out to play. And please, your high-and-mighty, please grant your forgiveness that we're not all as miserable wretches as you are.

straw? meet man.

straw? meet man.

What the hell are you talking

What the hell are you talking about? Can't accept that a real person made an honest comment? Heh, and you're telling US to grow up.

Likewise, I'd be willing to bet that you can't even accept the fact that some of us are authentically happy people, and that our playful convention escapism isn't an escape from a miserable life, but from the mundane nature of the day-to-day.

You loss.

you're claiming that i am

you're claiming that i am making the argument that all con goers are fucked up in the same way. my actual position is that most con goers are fucked up in their creation of an atmosphere where things that should be condemed, that is predators preying on weak people in sexually dangerous ways that are unhealthy, are flaunted and encouraged. because your claim is actually a weaker argument, and you don't address my actual point, you are making a straw man out of the opposing position.

this is your last comment of that nature. future failures of this kind will be taken as trolling and deleted. if you'd like to have a real conversation about actual positions people are taking you are welcome. straw man arguments will not be tolerated.

Hardly a straw-man argument.

Hardly a straw-man argument. Your position seems to indicate that you believe the social atmosphere of a convention is composed of social degenerates and damaged victims. Otherwise, your other assertions (about sexual predators and weak prey) would be invalid.

I am pointing out that your initial assumptions about the sorts of people who attend cons are flawed. YES, there are people with significant social issues. I know, because I had to verbally strong-arm one of them to leave a discussion group I was chatting with on Friday night. I gave him the death-glare, told him that he was unwelcome due to his (simply put) creepy and intrusive nature, and he left (albeit under protest). Yes, I've seen plenty of folks at conventions who don't adhere to social norms... but I've not seen anything to indicate that the average population at a convention is any more predatory and laden with damaged people than "regular" social gatherings. Have you EVER been to a frat party? A sorority house? A normal high school? A bar or a club? The biggest difference there is that most of the people you'll encounter have been taking lessons from popular magazines and mainstream media, but the predatory nature of perverted aggressors and the damaged and weak nature of their victims is the same. Same patterns, different trimmings.

My argument is that people are people, whether at a convention or in "mainstream" society. And my argument includes the fact that "fandom" and "mainstream" society overlap much more than you might give it credit for.

Also, I reject your argument that polyamory and BDSM are degenerate. Abusive relationships are degenerate. Womanizing is degenerate. But I've seen polyamory and kinky relationships work very well for people - happy, well-adjusted, intelligent, kind-hearted people. The problem at Arisia lies not in the polyamory and BDSM themes (if you don't like it, don't attend those panels), but in the fact that the openness of the dialogue makes the few perverts more obvious. They take bigger risks because they think the radar for their behavior isn't as keen as it would be in mainstream society. Perhaps it isn't. But please note that predators take advantage of weak people in monogamous and vanilla settings as well.

Arisia is a small, regional convention. It's not Dragon*Con or WorldCon or any of the big events that draw the really famous authors and actors. It doesn't have the resources of CostumeCon or ComicCon. The programming content is determined by the people willing to run the doggone thing in the first place. For the resources they have, they do a fine job.

And if you think that the behavior of the attendees is so bad... have you ever been on Spring Break?

If you give me a chance I'll

If you give me a chance I'll talk your ear off about why exactly the specific kinks of polyamory and 24/7 BDSM (note the 24/7 qualifier) are unethical and why the fact that "it works for some people" is irrelevant, but that's not germane to the point and reasonable people can disagree about that. and you are again misunderstanding my point. I'm not saying that the average con goer is a social degenerate or a damaged victim. I'm saying that the culture of conventions, established and organized by the average congoer, is one that fosters an environment where bad behavior is deemed acceptable. For the record, I have the same problem with the greek system and many other subcultures (see my comments above regarding indie rock scenes). But saying "hey look, other stuff is just as bad as stuff that goes on at cons" is no defense of SF cons. You're right, they are run and organized by volunteers on shoestring budgets who are doing it as a labor of love for the most part. Which is why i think there's an even greater duty on the part of those communities to create safe, healthy environments where people can indulge in their SF escapism, which for the record I'm heavily in favor of and think should be encouraged. Hell, I'd probably enjoy conventions myself if I felt like I could go and be guaranteed to just have a good time with like minded people talking about Philip K. Dick, Red Dwarf, language and SF, and whatever the latest thing Joss Whedon is up to. I'd love that. However, I go to cons and instead I see women with body language that projects "victim" at 100db being led around on leashes by fat bald guys 20 years older than they are, i see people with small children dressed like bondage fairies, i see all these panels about how to deal with your jealousy over letting the person you love fuck other people, and I want to scream. And then I look around at everybody else at the convention so wrapped up in their costuming and whatever else that they just don't seem to notice, and I want to shake them and find out why the fuck they aren't screaming about it too.

This is my problem with the convention culture you're defending.

I'll admit, I didn't see any

I'll admit, I didn't see any women being led on leashes by fat, bald men 20 years their senior, but then, I can't follow every track of programming. Nor did I see small children dressed like bondage fairies. In this cases, if that is indeed happening, then I'll agree with you - people need to speak up. In fact, one panel I was in specifically addressed ways to recognize the difference between consensual BDSM play and a person who was actually a victim - and that lecture was given by a women who is a certified state rape and trauma counselor.

I also agree that people need to speak up when someone is pushing the envelope too far, stepping over the line, or just being damned creepy. As I mentioned, I DID speak up, and I drove one creep away because he was leering at the younger folks in our discussion circle. I believe that the more "aware" con-goers need to create a hyper-aware atmosphere to guard against predatory behavior and so on. I don't believe that we should accept bad behavior, and we should make it clear that there's a line not to cross.

But generally, I don't see the line crossed as often as you do. Perhaps I hang out with a more savory crowd? My experiences at cons IS the geeking out over Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Whedon-verse, Doctor Who, and so on, as well as enjoying the grand costumes and masquerade competition. That's what I go for.

Now, if you'll humor me... kindly explain why polyamory (and it's not a "kink") is unethical? I am monogamous and faithfully married, but I have poly friends, and I see nothing unethical about their behavior. On what moral code are you basing that judgment? I admit I do have some difficulty with 24/7 BDSM, but I do know folks who do that, and who have healthy relationships (just as I know vanilla, monogamous folks who have cruel and abusive relationships). So please, explain the basis of your judgment against polyamory and 24/7 BDSM. I would welcome the discussion and your perspective.

I think the difference may be

I think the difference may be that most of my social circle are not con-goers and never would be. So when I have gone to cons I spend a lot of time people watching and thinking about the connection between the things I see that strike me as problematic and what it is about the con itself that lends to people doing these things so openly and in such a high concentration. And I'm glad that Arisia organizers brought in a rape and trauma counselor and addressed that aspect of BDSM. I think if you're talking about that particular kink at all, you have to go beyond "know your safe words" in order to be responsible. I'm really glad that people like you do try to foster a hyper-aware atmospher. Again, though, my question comes back to what is it about these (in particular smaller regional) SF cons that seems to bring out that kind of behavior in such high concentrations? My take about that is that it's convention organizers stepping over the line of tolerance of alternative lifestyles into an active acceptance the verges on promotion of them. That in and of itself creates an atmosphere that causes certain folks to feel comfortable pushing the envelope in inappropriate ways that they would not feel free to do in another social context. It ultimately comes down to a balancing test for me where the desire to have a safe and fun atmosphere outweighs the benefits of loading programming with a bunch of stuff on DIY kink which is what makes me question why have that stuff at all when the ostensible point of the con is pretty far removed from that sort of subject matter.

as for polyamory, the nutshell version goes like this:

1.) a principle P that allows for an action A is ethically sound iff. there is no person sharing certain characteristics such as reasonableness and the desire to know what is right and what is wrong who can reasonably reject P (for a discussion of why this metaethical theory over any other, see T.M. Scanlon's "what we owe to eachother." I personally find the book very convincing and think any other rational person should as well)
2.) Many, if not the vast majority of people, experience great pain when someone they love has sex with or expresses feelings of romantic love towards a third person
3.) That pain is a sufficient reason to reject a principle that would allow any person to operate on a principle that allows multiple romantic relationships
3.1) note i'm talking about romantic love relationships, not lots of casual partners, which is less problematic
4.) Therefore, there is some reasonable person who would reject any principle P that would allow for multiple romances as advocated for by polyamorists
5.) Therefore by 1 and 4 polyamory is unethical

The usual objection to this is "hey it works for some people, it's between consenting adults, etc." And i don't dispute that. There are no doubt some perfectly well adjusted people who are capable of being in polyamorous relationships without feeling any pain at all. However, the objection fails over the problem of other minds. Consider, sexual risk takers, which practitioners of polyamory are, as a population have a grossly disproportionate representation of sexual assault and/or trauma survivors and untreated mental illness. Sexual risk taking by itself is not necessarily symptomatic of some psychological problem, but if you were looking for people inclined to unhealthy, self-destructive behavior , you would be more likely to find them among sexual risk takers than you would among the general population. Second, note that many such people are very dishonest with themselves about their feelings and are often not honest with their partners about their own feelings as well. This is a problem in all relationships of course, but it is multiplied by more partners, which is a partiuclar problem in polyamorous relationships. Put succinctly, even though someone is consenting to something that is causing them great pain, there is no way to be certain about it one way or another. Finally, i define love in part at least by the desire to never do anything that would cause your loved one pain, and indeed making sacrifices yourself in order to avoid causing such pain. All of this adds up to a situation where if you have a bunch of people consenting to their lovers being with other people, almost certainly some of those people will be suffering because of it. Further, many of those people are acting in a way that causes people they claim to love to feel pain and are not at all concerned about it because they would rather have multiple partners. Which is to say that they are making a choice to satisfy themselves rather than avoid the very real risk of unknowingly causing pain in someone they love. And that I don't see how it can't be wrong.

Actually, Arisia didn't

Actually, Arisia didn't "bring in" a rape counselor. She's simply another attendee who sat on several panels for several reasons. I know her personally - she's a very strong and bright woman, and a good role model. She simply happened to broach this topic in one of the panels she sat on. There were several pertinent issues of respect that were discussed in that panel, including what constitutes acceptable behavior, and advocating for people to speak up when they witness inappropriate activity.

Your logic is interesting, but invalid. Our culture has fostered an attitude of jealousy and possessiveness about one's sexual partners (stemming back to the tradition of men "owning" their women). It's an archaic attitude, and a damaging one. Jealousy is a sign of distrust. In your point #2, you state that many (if not the vast majority of) people experience emotional pain when their lover either has sex or wants to have sex with a third person. I believe that is a product of our culture, not an innate emotional state. That state of jealousy and possessiveness is NOT inherent in all people, and therefore does not apply as a universal ethic. The argument from the opposite side of the house is that if you truly love a person (without possessiveness or jealousy), then you would want that person to have what makes him or her happy. Pride and arrogance would be the emotional drives that make a person want to be the ONLY one to whom another person can look for happiness. At the innocent end of the spectrum, you find the slightly jealous spouse. At the other end of the spectrum, you find the controlling, abusive, possessive, vengefully jealous spouse. I've seen both. Our western society fosters that damaging and dangerous mindset of "ownership" of one's significant other.

As I said, I'm in a monogamous, faithful marriage. However, if my wife expressed interest in seeing another person, I would not feel jealous, and if it made her happy, I would support that. It doesn't bother me at all. Why is that? Because I have absolute trust in her, and absolute knowledge that we love each other deeply. There is no need for jealousy when one is secure in their relationships.

So, I would place your argument into the same category as the following: "It's wrong for men to wear dresses," "The husband is head of the household," and "Don't wear white after Labor Day." It's a mindset created by our specific culture, not an inherent part of human nature.

Evidence that monogamy is not innate? Native tribes not influenced by the Abrahamic religions have demonstrated polygyny. Polygamy was common for centuries (millennia?) amongst Abrahamic cultures. And to be perfectly blunt, as a biologist with a background in population genetics, the more variety a woman has in her sexual partners, the greater the genetic diversity (and thus the robustness of the genetic pool) in the population.

So, while your mindset (whether by nature or nurture) would lead you to believe that most people would feel emotional pain in seeing their sexual partners find sexual and emotional pleasure with other people, that is simply not the case. Additionally, if you do not wish to be a polyamorous relationship, then do not enter one. From my experience (as quite a few of my friends are poly), only those who are comfortable with that sort of lifestyle enter into it. From what I have seen, they all have some of the most honest, open, trusting, generous, non-jealous relationships I've ever seen. For them, it does NOT cause pain to their other partners to see each other finding happiness from multiple sources.

In short, I understand your argument, but I reject your conclusion on the basis that your postulates are derived from a transient culture, not an absolute fact.

That being said, you asserted that the population engaged in polyamory has "a grossly disproportionate representation of sexual assault and/or trauma survivors and untreated mental illness." That's a very harsh assertion. Do you have data to back it up? Can you provide a source for these statistics?

As far as "risk-taking" is concerned... you take a risk every time you engage in sexual relations with a new partner. Serial monogamy is rampant in this society. You take greater risks having sex with ten partners over the course of time, one after another, than by having three committed partners all at once. So, yes, risk is inherent in sexual relationships. However, stable polyamory is less risky than unstable serial monogamy.

you're wrong about jealousy.

you're wrong about jealousy. it's a fundamental aspect of human existence seen in all recorded cultures, even those that practice plural marriage in various forms. see for example the anthropologist Donald Brown's book "Human Universals" for some detail on that point. Further, reports that other cultures don't have sexual jealousy are often wrong. Margaret Mead's work on Samoa is one of the most commonly cited, alleging that multiple partners was seen as the norm. She's been fairly roundly disproved on that point in the anthropological literature. The myth, however, persists as your own insistence on that point shows. More problematic is that such assertions about "native wisdom" strike me as vaguely racist. They are perpetuations of the old stereotype of the "noble savage" which asserts that we ought to be more like these "more primitive" cultures that are "more natural." Such notions are so loaded that I won't begin to unpack them here. I will only note that a knee jerk reaction that our culture is bad and other cultures are good is not born out by the evidence.

As for your own situation, I can't comment. I can only say that I've heard the same thing from a lot of people at the beginning of open relationships whose experiments in that regard either nearly destroyed or resulted in the end of the relationship. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but it's been my experience both as an observer and as someone who's been involved with women in polyamorous relationships. And again, my assertion isn't that all people will experience this pain. My assertion is that the fact that some do is good enough reason to reject the principle that allows for non-monogamy. So in a sense, whether jealousy is relative to our culture or not is irrelevant. This is the culture we live in and the moral facts we have to deal with are a part of that culture, like it or not. Wishing for Utopias where it might be otherwise is all well and good, but the fact remains that in this society, it's a fact that seeing the person you love fall in love with and make love to another person hurts. I'm not sure I understand why you would even try to dispute that.

I didn't assert that the polyamorous had more traumatized people, i said that sexual risk takers had a higher population of such people, and that polyamory is more likely to be attractive to sexual risk takers. As evidence, I'll invite you to thumb through the DSM-IV and note how many illnesses list sexual risk taking as a symptom. There are other facts that bear this out. You can find this stuff all over the psychological, sociological and anthropological literature. Look at population studies of sex workers, something like 66% of whom were victims of sexual assault prior to entering the oldest profession, the promiscuity rates of incest survivors and people who have otherwise been sexually assaulted which are nearly double those of non-victims, the fact that nearly half of the women survivors of childhood sexual abuse will be victimized again as adults compared to somewhere between 1/8th and 1/4th of all women, the fact that a large majority of sexual assault survivors devlop PTSD one of the symptoms of which is sexual adventurousness, and a clear picture starts to take shape of a minority population who as a result of PTSD or some other mental illness related to their sexual histories put themselves in harms way more often in their sex lives. Now take with that the fact that anthropology and some dubious appeal to cultural relativity aside, that a really good way to put yourself in harms way sexually is to get involved in an emotional relationship with someone who has multiple other partners, and you have the reason that I think Polyamory (and 24/7 lifestyle folks) are problematic and on a poor footing ethically.

finally, i want to point out, yet again, that the fact that some people have successful polyamorous relationships and that some people have destructive serially monogamous relationships is entirely beside the point. It simply doesn't matter. What matters is what's an acceptable for one person taking a risk of hurting someone they care deeply about. And frankly, novel sex is pretty lame justification for anything that serious.

It seems we're going to

It seems we're going to disagree no matter how lengthy the debate. I will point out that I wasn't trying to indicate the "noble native" trope in my argument. I was trying to point out that cultures that don't branch back directly to the Abrahamic religions and that have different basic societal precepts do not necessarily follow the same patterns in sexual relationships. I am NOT making a judgment call as to which is better or worse; I'm merely trying to point out that monogamy and possessiveness in relationships need not be an inherent part of the human psyche.

At any rate, I must go to bed. I have work in the morning (wow, a real, mundane job), and then... ha, I'm actually going to another convention this weekend. Something I've never done before - two conventions, two weekends in a row. I typically only get to about three per year... so this is highly unusual.

I'm going to do a bit of an experiment though - I'm going to compare VisionCon to Arisia in light of this discussion thread and see what I find. This ought to be interesting.

I'm also highly tempted to broach this discussion at my church and see what philosophical thoughts I get from other members of my congregation. As Spock would say... "Fascinating..."

please let me know what the

please let me know what the results of your experiments are. i'm curious to find out.

Well, I'm back from that

Well, I'm back from that other convention... and let me tell you... the blatant objectification of women, the creepy presumptuousness of the male component at that convention... I'm androgynous, and I was blatantly objectified. I had random creepy guys try to touch me and kiss my hand while I was in costume, without any sort of invitation. That has never happened to me at Arisia. People at Arisia generally have a high level of mutual respect that I've experienced. I was told that VisionCon was a more "traditional" convention. In short, it was a bunch of basement-dwelling gamers who see something resembling female and feel the need to paw and push without consideration.

Again, I assert that polyamory is a lifestyle choice that works for some, not for all, and that negatively judging something in the absolute sense because it would make YOU uncomfortable is illogical. That's akin to saying, "I'm not gay, so all homosexuality is wrong because it makes most people uncomfortable to have sex with someone of the same gender." Quite simply, I don't buy it.

But as far as how Arisia stacks up to something that folks claimed was a "traditional" convention... Arisia wins, hands down. More polite, more respectful, more cordial. Less creepy, less pervy, less scuzzy. Arisia has a strong "alternative lifestyles" track, and it has for a long time. If it's not your thing, then it's not your thing... but I can not logically accept judgment against polyamory in the absolute sense.

Cheers,
Leo

"And again, my assertion

"And again, my assertion isn't that all people will experience this pain. My assertion is that the fact that some do is good enough reason to reject the principle that allows for non-monogamy."

So, the fact that SOME people experience pain because of polyamory, means it's ethically wrong for ALL people?

Wow.

yep. that's the long and the

yep. that's the long and the short of it.