Balticon buggers it bigtime:   Bye!

  Not quite a year after the original sad saga, I decided in advance of Balticon 51 to independently reach out to the Renaissance Harborplace to see if they had discovered reason and fixed their discrimination problem.  I sent my query to the person who had fielded the original complaint via Marriott, hoping that she might still be there.

Date: Thu, 4 May 2017 10:51:50 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Pam Saleh <>
Subject: upcoming event

As you're probably aware, the Balticon science-fiction event is
coming up soon.  You may recall my complaint about certain
policy and personnel issues after last year's event, which were
echoed fairly loudly around both the convention community and
the Marriott corporate infrastructure.

What improvements have you made in the interim?  This has
direct impact on my choice of participation or avoidance
for this year.

If you need to do additional research and validation, please
see the website  and follow some of the
links presented there.

The address was still valid, but Pam apparently deferred the matter higher up in the chain of command.  About as high as one could go within their facility, assuming from the signature block in what I received back -- indeed, on the same day.  I must have sent my question *just* at the right time, as I certainly had no knowledge about when the Balticon planners were going to have meetings with the hotel.  But I seem to have asked while their own proceedings were still fresh in everyone's minds.

Date: Thu, 4 May 2017 16:33:30 +0000
From: "Donahue, Terry" <>
CC: "Saleh, Pam" <>
Subject: RE: upcoming event

Dear Sir;

I have met with the Conference president and the Convention Chair last
evening.  The hotels position on this matter has not changed from last
year.  Participants are required to wear footwear.

Thank you

RENAISSANCE HARBORPLACE HOTEL | O. 410.986.4801 | M. 908.304.5154

This communication contains information from Marriott International, Inc.
that may be confidential. Except for personal use by the intended recipient,
or as expressly authorized by the sender, any person who receives this
information is prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, and/or
usingit. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately
delete it and all copies, and promptly notify the sender. Nothing in this
communication is intended to [sic]

I sat there absolutely stupefied.  This just made me angry.  This is a science fiction convention, supposedly a celebration of diversity, acceptance, and all that is peculiar and unusual, in a safe space that it creates for itself over a weekend.  A place where self-expression and lifestyle freedom are supposed to be king, but evidently not here.  After all the diligence I had put in trying to solve this issue in our favor from factual sources, after all the ancillary railing we saw in other fan forums, and all of the flat-out *warning* signs that the Balticon leadership was well aware of, they still let this happen and allowed ignorance and prejudice to prevail over their event.  Remind me, isn't Maryland a red state?  Not to mention that Pam had flat-out lied to me a year back.

I figured the game was over at this point and I didn't really care, as I already considered the convention expendable, but I had to say *something* in response to this and make it pretty sharp, just to emphasize the sad folly of their collective path.

Date: Fri, 5 May 2017 11:24:50 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: "Donahue, Terry" <>
Cc: "Saleh, Pam" <>
Subject: Re: upcoming event

Your organization has no legal, logical, or scientific basis
for that position, and may very well be in violation of the
ADA.  You evidently haven't even tried to do the research
I asked you to, back then or now, even after all the very
clear backlash from last year.  To come down so firmly on the
side of petty rules against a simple, harmless and provably
HEALTHY lifestyle choice is about the most inexcusably
unprofessional and insensitive decision you could have made.

In other words, about the most restrained way I could tell them, "fuck you, you fucking fucks".  Seriously.  And that bit about the Disabilities Act is completely valid -- I know at least two people who MEDICALLY need to remain barefoot in every aspect of their lives, as recommended by their doctors.  Deliberately forcing people into footwear that hurts them, and let's say physically or mentally at this point, fails to accomodate their needs in venues licensed for general public occupancy and would result in their illegal exclusion from events like the convention.  And there's also the issue of increased liability that the hotel brings upon itself by insisting on "some kind of footwear" without further specification, much of which can make its wearer *less* safe during normal movement and activity.  Flip-flops on the escalators?  Sure, have fun with that.

I frankly didn't expect anything in return, and was a little surprised when I did get something, but not especially surprised by the finger-pointing, responsibility-avoidance gist of its content. 

Date: Fri, 5 May 2017 18:47:42 +0000
From: "Donahue, Terry" <>
CC: "Saleh, Pam" <>, "Dale" <>
Subject: RE: upcoming event

Dear Sir;

There will be no further dialog with you from this office in regards to
this issue.  I have copied the President of the Balticon, feel free to
direct any comments to Dale Arnold.

Thank you

RENAISSANCE HARBORPLACE HOTEL | O. 410.986.4801 | M. 908.304.5154

Oh, like Mr. Arnold was supposed to "discipline" me or something as one of his own fold, "the Balticon"?  I've never even been a BSFS associate; I was an external hired gun in 2016, for whatever value of "hired" all our *freely volunteered* labor and equipment normally constitutes.  Dale was in the ballroom that night in May 2016 when all this originally exploded, talking to some other people from the hotel while the security goons were yelling at me to come down off a ladder where I was busy *working* to help build their con, with my hands full of lights and wiring and my untrammeled feet happily keeping me safe and stable.

Here's what Dale should have done in that moment.  He should have sat down, removed his own shoes and socks, and then stood face-to-face with the hotel people there and said: "you can kick me out of this room too, and if you do that, you kick the entire convention out of the hotel along with me.  If that's the path you choose, over such an unwarranted, discriminatory, and petty issue that does not affect your operations in the slightest, then you will have a line around the block of guests demanding full refunds, you will lose all possible revenue from this weekend, and you'll be up to your asses in a swamp of cost-recovery, discrimination, and breach-of-contract lawsuits afterward.  Is that what you really want?"

I can dream, can't I.

To my surprise, Dale reached out to me directly a little later, detailed here.  But that exchange only lent more evidence that those at the top of the BSFS heap are too ineffectual to stand up for what is objectively right, and all they'll accomplish is further promulgation of the usual harmful mythologies.  So I'm simply done with them and their bigoted little backyard party.  As the city of Baltimore moved into some of the top slots around the country for homicide rate in early 2017, it seemed best to simply keep myself and my interests out of that stinking hellhole anyway.

_H*   170505

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