Rules Are For The Little People

So, there are a couple of people upset with DragonCon.

Yeah, I know, yesterday’s tweetfest was a real treat for me. And there’s been a blog post or two about it as well and all I want to do is throw my two cents (that’s all it’s worth) in anyway.
In case you’re unaware, two of the skepchicks were at DragonCon. At least one of them was there as a panelist on a few topics. They also had set up a table in the free area (known as the Fan area) to sell some of their merchandise. It turns out it didn’t go well because a representative of the conference came by and ask them to remove any non-logo merchandise from their table. Why? It’s part of the terms of use for having a non-paid table set up. Here’s the relevant part of the terms from DragonCon’s page:

In deference to our dealers and exhibitors, who purchase a table or sponsor the convention, no general merchandise sales are permitted at concourse tables. You can sell logo merchandise from your organization and other items made exclusively for and by your club, band or organization. Dragon*Con does not charge a percentage of these merchandise sales.

That seems clear to me. Anything someone that has a Fan table is welcome to sell their own merchandise as long as it contains their group or organizations logo on the things being sold.
That’s the background, but what I really want to discuss here is the blog post that resulted from the incident. Yesterday on Twitter, I was referring to the post as a rant, but on further consideration, I would now view it as more as frustrated and a little angry and I have some issues with what was stated even though I was not an attendee of the conference nor did I witness the incident.
First of all, I have a problem with the title of the post, How Skepchick Got Booted from DragonCon Today. Well, that’s blatantly not true and the author herself in the post never really says that they were “booted” from the conference. All that happened was that they were asked to remove the non-logo items from their table.
Ms. Watson starts off the relevant part of her blog quoting the specific rule(as I did above) that was broken and states that they had never read that because someone else arranges for all the skeptic tables and that they have no direct contact with DragonCon itself. Really? So, “skeptic tables” don’t have to fill out the form on the DragonCon website requesting a free table? I’m skeptical. Only skeptics have the privilege of not filling out the form? Seems a bit far-fetched to me. Okay though, let’s say this is true and move on from here. The problem seemed to be with this specific statement in the rules for Fan tables:logo merchandise from your organization and other items made exclusively for and by your organization. This was interpreted by our intrepid heroes to mean they could sell anything they want.
First of all, SurlyRamics is a business unto itself. Amy Roth generates income for herself from her ceramic jewelry. Don’t get me wrong, I am a die-hard capitalist and I applaud anyone that starts a business and supports themselves and their family through their own efforts. But this is a business, that she is licensed in her home state to run. She’s not there selling her goods to support skeptichick.org, but to provide for herself. As a business owner, she should’ve have been selling her merchandise in the vendor area. But that would mean having to pay at least $550 for a table.
The same goes for Ms. Watson as well. She clearly states in her post that her being able to sell her goods basically pays for her trip there since she’s an uncompensated speaker or panelist or whatever. So the money is not going to support the organization, but to support them. That’s okay though! Get a vendor table and there’s no issue.
I’m not going to comment on the back-and-forth conversation that occurred with the DragonCon representative because that’s mostly useless paste. What really got my attention was the final few short paragraphs of her post where Ms. Watson appeared to me to be invoking a special privilege. She refers to herself as an “attending professional” where, for free, she’s there to “perform” on panels.
So, that she gets a free pass to the conference means that she should be able to do what she wants? I don’t think so. She claims to have been threatened and intimidated by this one representative but provides no evidence in her post that anything that was said was either. She’s just unhappy that she was unable to exploit the rules for a free table at the conference for profit.
The real kicker is the final paragraph where she thanks all her friends on Twitter and Facebook that “have my back”. This is the Real Face of Feminism I guess. A woman that cannot stand up for herself and needs her White Knight horde to support her every whim. It’s disgusting.

UPDATE: If you haven’t already, take a look at what vjack has to say about this incident. Also, Sara Mayhew posted this afternoon. She’s actually communicated with people that were there and I think you’ll find the additional information useful.

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