The secret to life is don't be a jerk

I tweeted this yesterday because so many people are holding Dave Truesdale up as a martyr for free speech and censorship. As if everyone should hijack convention panels they're supposed to moderate and which hundreds of people had chosen to attend.

Other people are taking a slightly different approach, saying that they've seen much worse behavior than Truesdale's at conventions, behavior which didn't result in anyone being kicked out.

I disagree with both of these views.

There was no censorship of Truesdale. He's free to say what he wants on whatever subject he wants, as he is now doing at Tangent Online. He also could have asked Worldcon for a specific panel on the topic he addressed, or raised the topic in the short fiction panel without hijacking an entire discussion he was supposed to moderate. Truesdale did neither of these last two options. Instead of moderating the panel — ie, facilitating the discussion around a specific subject — he took over the panel and forced the other panelists and the audience to engage with his own beliefs.

As for saying that there's been worse behavior at conventions, that's a very wrong way to excuse bad behavior. No wrong behavior at conventions or other places should ever be tolerated merely because worse has been done in the past.

For those defending Truesdale's actions, I ask the following: How would you feel if the panelists and moderators at this year's World Fantasy Convention took over all the panels? If you showed up for a panel about your favorite author and instead learned the panelists were going to discuss a totally different subject?

Think this is a silly example? Well, there are already many complaints about the WFC panel line-up. There's even an alternate #guerrillaWFC list of panels online.

Would the people supporting Truesdale's actions be okay if all the panels at WFC were hijacked? Or if every panel at every convention was subject to extremely going off topic or being changed at the whim of the moderator and panelists?

I'm not advocating the hijacking of the WFC panels (and according to Sarah Pinsker, WFC may be addressing the legitimate concerns raised about their panel choices). But understand that if people support Truesdale's actions in this case, they're opening up many other cases they may not support.

The simple truth is that if Truesdale had raised his issues in the panel in a civil manner without hijacking the panel, people would have discussed them. But he didn't do this. He came prepared to derail the entire panel and force people to deal with him. He was a jerk and behaved like a jerk and people reacted accordingly.

Funny thing about life. If you're not a jerk people will discuss things with you even when they disagree with what you're saying.