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Guns and cons (but no rock and roll).

Let's start with a link. I'll wait while you go and read it: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/10/18/shooter_opens_fire_at_fort_myers_florida_zombiecon.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

This is scary. Someone was killed at Zombiecon by someone who turned up and started shooting.
This time, for the first time ever, I looked up what the gun laws were for the place where worldcon was to be held, because some of the things that had been said in the run-up to it by some of the puppy-allies were seriously scary. I didn't enjoy that feeling, nor did I enjoy feeling I needed to know. Fan space isn't necessarily safe space -- indeed, often it isn't safe. But this is an added level of anxiety, which had begun for me two years earlier and is one of the reasons I didn't go to LoneStarCon. I come from a culture in which guns are rare and controlled. I'm outspoken, female and left wing -- very left wing by US standards. Texas feels scary to me (well, some parts of it do).
In the run-up to Sasquan, someone -- I forget who, and don't have the link to had -- called for worldcons in future only to be held in open carry states. Someone else threatened to hit anyone who dared to find his views frightening. That same person stated that he will only accept foreigners who agree with him that the US is the greatest country in the world and who place its interests above everything else.
I've had issues with sexual harassment and misogyny in fandom for years. I've witnessed incidents of homophobia, transphobia and racism at cons. I've witnessed one psychotic breakdown (the concom and site handled it well and with compassion for all involved) and many crises. I've twice been seriously assaulted in fan space and I've long lost track of the minor incidents. SFF has a long way to go. But until the puppies appeared, I've never worried about guns.
SFF is bigger than right wing gun lovers. It's bigger than US exceptionalists. It belongs to all of us, whatever our race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, whether we're cis or trans, old or young, rich or poor. My fanspace has room for everyone, even the puppies (though I'd prefer they left their guns at the door, for everyone's safety).
Yesterday, someone opened fire at a cosplay event.
I don't want this to happen on another day at an sff con. If you'd asked me about this a few years ago, I'd have said, 'That'll never happen.' Now... I know I'm not alone in feeling afraid. I know I wasn't alone in worrying in the run-up to Sasquan.
But here's the thing. This whole deal with guns is part of the US culture war. SFF does not belong to any one country, any one creed or race or gender or whatever. It's bigger than that.
And I want the culture war out of our space.

Skirt of the day: blue flags.


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
It gets worse. They are talking about open carry on campuses. Allowing students--away from home for the first time, stressed, sometimes isolated and feeling out of the school culture--to carry guns.

I honestly don't know where I can go live, at this point. I am too old to emigrate unless my money situation balloons. Right now I am trapped here for a couple of months, and then possibly heading for a state as bad as the one I am living in.

Yet the alternative might be isolation in New England somewhere. I would probably have continuous problems with my arthritis, a souvenir of The Life, Interrupted illness, but less chance of being caught in a shoot out? But then we have the Boston Marathon. Danger is everywhere.

But we now are measuring how dangerous on some private point scale. A friend reminds me that media makes it seem more dangerous than it is. Yes, perhaps. But when I must weigh if a convention is worth running into the age group most likely to go ballistic....

I don't go to the convention. Sigh. I feel as if a very vocal minority are keeping the majority in fear. Unless the Internet starts policing trolls (and some Internet sites think trolls both keep things lively, and see more ads=make site more money)I see people retreating behind firewalls.

I wish you could have come to Lone Star Con. But I would not advise a young woman who might have a problem pregnancy to move to Texas, either. It's not like I don't see the problems. The burden of vision. But I am outvoted by the old and fearful, and the young who fear change means less for them.
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, Kathy, that's so difficult. I am sending you good thoughts. I just hope some president soon faces up to this and imposes real gun control.
Much love.
(no subject) - alfreda89 - Oct. 25th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 18th, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC)
I think, unfortunately, that this is a potential issue anywhere in the US, regardless of open carry. We don't have open carry where I live, but we do have a lot of gun violence.
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:25 pm (UTC)
Oct. 18th, 2015 09:22 pm (UTC)
Here is a handy map from the Wall Street Journal, dated August 2014, of open carry states. I find it shocking: http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/map-where-is-open-carry-legal-1715/. Thank god California forbids it, but it makes me feel sure that I don't want to go to the Kansas City Worldcon. Because this is going to escalate, I fear.

How has this gun culture become so toxic in my lifetime? What can I do to change my government's mind? The NRA lobby is insanely powerful.
Oct. 18th, 2015 09:53 pm (UTC)
I don't think this is totally up to date, sadly, because Open Carry is now allowed in Texas. I had no clue that *most* states allow this. The growth of the NRA mirrors the growth of reactionary right-wing radio. The Internet, the thing that we hoped might allow us to become more open to people different from us, has allowed narrow-minded left and right wing groups to find each other.

Heard that were are going to re-focus on domestic terrorism. Good.

Edited at 2015-10-25 02:32 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Oct. 19th, 2015 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
Clicked the link (been working all day), and sure enough. Florida. (Said in much the same tone as, in Elizabeth Peters, one says "Ramses.")

When Obama was elected, we leftie-wingers looked at each other and shuddered. We had a bad feeling about the rise of the crazy. It's all gone off the charts, as we feared.

And yet, you know, the vast majority of us live as one does anywhere, and a whole lot more comfortably than one does in, say, Yemen. I don't think anywhere is safe in this rat-maze world we live in. Best we can do is keep trying for sanity, and try to change the culture and the debate.

I'm surprised Arizona hasn't gone further off the rails than it has. The Giffords shooting smacked some sense into a few people, I think. There has been a campus shooting, but those are endemic (and epidemic). The "Papers or Else" law has been more ignored than observed, and border violence is down and has been down for years. The shriekers have moved on for the most part. It's as if we can't compete with Florida or Texas, so our extremists have given up trying. Even our whackadoodle Congresscritters have faded before the crazies from elsewhere (and our, by 138 midterm low-turnout votes, Representative has been hit with an ethics investigation).

I think we're on the cusp of another cultural shift, away from the gun crazies. Unfortunately it's going to take a while. And the white dudes will get angrier before they stop. All we can do, as I said, is try to hold out for sanity.
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
I hope that shift away happens soon.
Elizabeth Peters! I love her books. Love, love, love them.
(no subject) - mevennen - Oct. 19th, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alfreda89 - Oct. 25th, 2015 02:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2015 06:26 am (UTC)
As you probably know from my posts, I own guns and am a hunter. This year, I think I could easily tell the difference between a gun crazy and someone reasonable out in the woods (it helps to be hunting in a rather isolated area which so far is not that attractive to the 1% who are gun wannabees). I don't think things are as weird as the media is making it to be...but then again, I'm in a place where a weapon in a truck's gun rack is normal. I don't see handguns in open carry except for police officers, and the locals have a badge prominently displayed when they're off-duty (much, much weirdness happening on that front but things are getting resolved).

All the same, I won't hunt in an area close to an urban center. Too many wannabees. I have stated in many places that in my opinion, open carry (outside of rifles and shotguns used for hunting) is the refuge of someone who can't pass a concealed carry class. Interestingly, I've yet to be challenged on that front. Let's just say, I've taken a concealed carry class and passed it. The bar is rather low, and...I see no good reason for open carry. When I was teaching, I opposed the idea of teachers carrying in class, for several good reasons involving security of the weapon. I think most of the drama is happening in higher population areas (Roseburg is...Roseburg. There are stories. My parents lived there in the early 50s. I have a high school classmate living there now. I would not live in Roseburg, but I live part-time in a very small rural Eastern Oregon community 190 miles due south from Spokane.)

(And yes. This is one leftist who's armed. In hunting season, at least. Here that takes me through January 31st for grouse, chukar, and Hungarian partridge. Husband has tags for bear and cougar, which takes him through November and December, as well as bird tags. Outside of hunting season, I'm not likely to be carrying unless I'm plinking and shooting squirrels).
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:31 pm (UTC)
I know several people who own guns and in all cases, you are responsible people for whom the guns are tools with a use. Which is fine with me. I can't imagine you ever being one of the scary people. It's the wannabes who are the thing that scare me.
(no subject) - joycemocha - Oct. 20th, 2015 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alfreda89 - Oct. 25th, 2015 02:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2015 07:16 am (UTC)
Dragon Con in Atlanta has a firm 'no guns; no, not even if you can carry them in your own state/home' policy.
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:31 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of a con which allowed them on site.
I've heard of people bringing them anyway, sadly. Which is the problem.
Oct. 19th, 2015 07:18 am (UTC)
Never visited the US and for reasons of which you are aware, I'm never likely to............
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:32 pm (UTC)
The US contains many many lovely people. And some scary ones. Which is like us, I guess, only with semi-automatic weapons.
(no subject) - cmcmck - Oct. 19th, 2015 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Oct. 19th, 2015 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC)
D: about the shooting and the guns. This is terrifying.

SFF does not belong to any one country
Thank you for this. As someone who is not from an English-speaking country, online SFF can be a very odd place to be in.

I've learned the hard way not to mention Fantômette or Yoko Tsuno as my childhood heroines because no one would know who I was talking about, but often someone will drop a reference to a (often childhood) book everyone's read and no, sorry, I haven't read that. When English-speaking kids were reading Narnia and Animorphs and the Dark is Rising (that's a thing, right?), I was reading Tara Duncan and Ewilan and Le Livre des Etoiles.

I'm not saying my readings were better, because they're not. I'm saying my banlieue kids becoming alchemists (Le Grimoire d'Arkandias) are just as valid as Harry Potter, that my brother's Chevaliers d'Emeraude are just as valid as other people's Young Wizards. My grief over never finding out what would happen after Les Âmes Croisées is just as valid as my grief over never getting to read more Discworld.

It would be nice if more people would acknowledge that English-speaking SFF is not the be all and end all of SFF, is what I'm saying.

Okay, who did I borrow this soapbox from?
Oct. 19th, 2015 04:34 pm (UTC)
Please, continue on the soapbox: this matters! I am too old to have met Tsuno at the right age, but I read La Rose de Versailles in French and it's a seminal text for me.
Let's hear it for an sff that's as wide as inclusive as it possibly can be.
I need to read Le Grimoire d'Arkandias: it sounds wonderful. Off to Amazon.fr right away!
(no subject) - anef - Oct. 20th, 2015 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 20th, 2015 07:24 pm (UTC)
Well said. I can't think of much to add, except that I get less and less keen about visiting the States. On the other hand, as people have said, nowhere is actually safe. I work in London and commute via King's Cross, but just happened not to be in on 7/7. I worked in London in the '80s and '90s when the IRA were active. We arrived in Ankara last week on the same day as the latest atrocity. You can get run over crossing the road. In any world, you assess the potential risks and do what you can to avoid them. Any convention which allowed people to bring in guns would be one to avoid, I think.
Oct. 20th, 2015 08:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, this. I'll not stop using the tube, or going to cons (even in USA) because of a small chance of some crazed ideologue kicking off. And whatever precautions we take, we're all going to wind up dead far sooner than we'd like. So I'd like to do some living first.
(no subject) - alfreda89 - Oct. 25th, 2015 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 25th, 2015 02:56 pm (UTC)
There are recorded instances of individuals who idolize serial killers and "famous" killers and seek to emulate them, to stand out for one brief instance, even for such a reason.

It's part of the reason I probably won't recognize an incident by the name of the killer. I mentally erase them. I remember those who died.

The book The Gift of Fear has some interesting information on this. I recommend it to everyone.
(no subject) - sheilagh - Oct. 31st, 2015 04:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Nov. 2nd, 2015 11:29 am (UTC) - Expand
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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