So, I’ve just become aware of the statement by Worldcon 75 over their parting of ways with former musical programming director David “filkerdave” Weingart. This statement was made as a necessary clarification of sorts after Mr. Weingart made a post sharing the story from his side.
I have neither skin in this game nor a horse in this race (nor even skin in a race or a horse in a game), but my impression is that the Worldcon statement aims to be fair and even-handed in a way that hardly anyone on any side of any divide will find very satisfactory, but which I think is appropriately neutral for the circumstances.
I have linked to the Worldcon statement, but I’m not linking to his, as it includes a screen shot that allows anyone with five seconds’ spare time and any inkling of how Twitter works to find either exactly the person whose name he’s redacting or someone unrelated that he has put in a very unfortunate set of crosshairs via the information he chose to release. I’ve seen enough internet detective-ing gone wrong that I have no absolutely opinion which is more likely to be the case; but in my opinion, both are deplorable.
I don’t assume malice where foolishness will suffice, so I similarly have no opinion on whether this was careless or calculated, but either way, it’s irresponsible, and I will not point people to his statement under the circumstances. It is the impact of the actions that concerns me, not the intent of the actor. Mr. Weingart has decried people harassing the person who the information he shared leads to, but the information is still there.
When I read Mr. Weingart’s statement, I do think of other, similar situations where I have heard both sides, and so even though I don’t know the person he’s referring to and I don’t know what the person would say, my mind inevitably tries to fill in some blanks.
I think nearly every woman knows a woman who has been in those shoes, having to ask a man to back off with an ever-increasing level of bluntness while the man professes—very possibly honestly—that he doesn’t have any clue what could make her so uncomfortable, he was just… anything. He was just just. I think a lot of women have been that woman.
But as much as my mind leaps in that direction, I’m doing my best not to let it influence me here. There’s a lot of projection, and the other party in this has not to my knowledge asked for people to leap to their defense or make assumptions about them.
I don’t know David Weingart.
I do know a lot of people who know him, and who have worked with him and played with him, and I know he has a lot of support and a lot to offer any con. But having only heard his side of things, I have to say: at the point you realize it’s ridiculous and impossible to fulfill the functions of an office while abiding by principles you agreed to, you’ve actually realized it’s impossible to fulfill the functions of that office.
That’s the time to, if not step down, then at least step back. That’s when you find a partner, find a deputy, find someone who can go the places that you need to go and do the things that you need to do, without compromising the safety and peace of mind of the person you’d agreed was entitled to such.
Again, only going by his side of things… it doesn’t seem like push needed to come to shove here, especially since the all-important thing that brought him to the all-staff chat thing was so he could post a Babylon 5 video about Swedish meatballs? I’m sure there were legitimate reasons that the person in charge of music would need to interact freely with the rest of the staff, that seems obvious, but posting videos as a punchline to a light-hearted staff chat seems like a strange hill to die on?
I don’t know the other person’s side of things. I don’t want or need to know the other person’s side of things. But it seems like David Weingart knew his position was untenable, and he chose to continue hold onto it until someone else forced the issue.
I suspect the reason for this has something to do with the calculus of priority that we tend to make, in fannish and convention circles, which is: what I or this person has to offer in terms of experience, passion, and expertise is worth more than the comfort and safety of a few people. That’s how you look at a situation where you agree that a person has a right to be free of you and you realize that the position you accepted makes that impossible and you conclude that the solution is for everyone to just sort of power through anyway. You’ve made the decision that what you do for the con is more important than what you do to this individual.
I think no one would dispute to Mr. Weingart’s contributions to cons actually have been tremendously valuable. But as fannish circles and conventions embrace community standards and commitments to safety and work to be more welcoming to people from every walk of life, we really have to internalize the lesson that nobody is irreplaceable.
We need a culture where the kind of knowledge and experience that a seasoned music director brings to the table is shared more widely rather than concentrated in a few seasoned hands, where no one is ever faced with a situation of, “Well, sure, if this person is in this place, it’s going to be a problem, but who else is going to do it?”
Even if he’s 100% right that this is just bad optics, even granting he’s 100% right that the restrictions he’d have to agree to would prevent him from doing his job, we can’t agree to treat women’s (and others’) safety concerns seriously right up until the moment that it’s inconvenient. That’s not how it works.
All of this is based solely on Mr. Weingart’s charaterization of events. To read the comments from Worldcon 75’s Facebook account on their statements, there is a somewhat different picture. Where Mr. Weingart talks of innocently joining a general purpose staff chat forum, Worldcon 75 points out that he was specifically jumping on threads created by the person he’d agreed to have no contact with, posting in them multiple times. That seems to shade things a bit differently than the picture he paints, to be honest?
But again, they’re trying very had to be evenhanded, and so am I. Per his own account, David Weingart recognized that he could not function under the strictures of the principles he’d agreed to. If it’s a shame he was fired, then the shame is that he made them do it instead of finding a solution to the impasse he recognized or stepping back.
Wow. As I was in the process of finalizing this, Mr. Weingart posted some emails he had sitting around to validate his version of events. It includes the same screenshot, sadly, with the same telltale trail of identifying breadcrumbs. If you want to find more about this, it’s not going to be hard with Google, but I just can’t in good conscience send people there directly.
All I’ll say about the emails is: I don’t know what the takeaway we’re supposed to get from them is, but it’s not a good look. I think if I had seen them before I wrote this post, I would have taken a very different tone and tenor.
A previous iteration of this post spelled Mr. Weingart’s name incorrectly. I’m only slightly acquainted with him under his nomme des tubes of filkerdave and did not know his full name before. I apologize for the error.