And we might have a bridge to sell you...

  Some hours after the hotel people blew me off, Dale actually attempted to reach out to me, which I didn't expect at all given how things had gone.  It turned out that Balticon had made some sort of halfhearted effort to resolve the problem, but they really didn't go at it the right way and continued getting jerked around by the jerks -- with Terry Donahue as the petty podophobe-in-chief.  At least the Renaissance Rabble is consistent in that regard, e.g. treating well-meaning people bringing a large event to their space as second-class citizens.  It was clear that BSFS still couldn't figure out that they were being taken for a ride.  Really, their most major mistake was to contract for another year in an openly hostile venue.

Date: Fri, 5 May 2017 23:40:56 +0000
From: Dale <>
Subject: The bare foot problem at Balticon

We tried to resolve this and the hotel agreed that if BSFS secured
a insurance rider which specifically covered any injury claim made
related to bare feet and absolved them of responsibility then they
would allow people to have bare feet.  We attempted to buy such a
policy rider from our insurance carrier.  They wanted an additional
$9,000.00 for such a policy rider.  We can not afford to pay that
amount.  So, no bare feet at Balticon other that at the pool and in
the masquerade green room to prep for the masquerade.  The hotel will
allow any type of shoe including ballet flats, flip flops, yoga foot
gloves that have individual toes and a thin almost non-existent sole.
But, they must be "shoes."  I realize you believe this is wrong and
that bare feet should be allowed and personally I believe people
should be able to do whatever they want, even something the majority
feels is manifestly dangerous, but the hotel management does not
agree.  Given the price, our insurer seems to feel allowing people in
bare feet to walk around in public areas is extremely risky as well.
Frankly you would not catch me walking around any public space
without good solid shoe.  Brian Groover had something fall on his
foot at Balticon 49 and almost lost his toes even with minimally
protective shoes, so it is not as if we have never had a problem with
foot damage.  But as I said, I believe we should allow folks to live
their lives and if it had only been a thousand or two in cost we
would have made the deal to keep fandom happy.

So, Balticon will go forward without your attendance.  I hope you find
a great place to spend the weekend where the owners of the property
appreciate your point of view.

---Dale S. Arnold
    President of BSFS

So, is that the "price of freedom"?!  What a sorry laugh riot -- they still didn't get it.  Due credit for at least bringing it up with the hotel, but sorry, I could not even feign sympathy for this fabricated plight.  For an insurance company to even try to put a "value" on barefooting is a risible proposition in the first place, as the convention already carries general liability to cover all their event contingencies.

My outrage had more or less simmered down by now, replaced with a sort of sad, forehead-slapping amusement that the mangled corpse of my Balticon participation was still twitching at all.  So I at least gave Dale the courtesy of explaining where they'd gone wrong. 

Date: Sun, 7 May 2017 08:24:08 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
Subject: Re: The bare foot problem at Balticon

You probably don't want to hear anything more about this from me,
but there is one major point everyone seems to have missed.

There is no liability situation.  The hotel is legally out of bounds
asking for additional insurance coverage, because the limit of their
duty of care doesn't extend to guest or visitors' feet.  They should
know this, and if they didn't, they should have researched it over
the intervening year.  At the very most, all they [or the con] might
want to do is warn attendees, "if you want to attend the con without
shoes, please watch your step and be aware, because you assume full
risk and responsibility for any problems related to where you walk".
The moral equivalent of a "wet floor" sign, that fulfills 100% of
any duty that the venue might have and completely covers them with
regard to any incident.  This could have easily been written into the
convention policies that attendees presumably indicate acceptance of
when they register.

Thus, the hotel's legal people [Marriott-level if needed] should have
realized that and clarified it for everyone, and the insurance company
should simply be telling you that you don't need any such additional
rider rather than trying to bully more money out of BSFS.  All of
this is legally provable.  If you have any hard references which
contravene that, I'd love to read them.  Furthermore, dictating only
"shoes" and leaving the exact type unspecified opens the hotel to
*far* more liability in general -- ADA violations aside, a person's
choice may not be safe for the surroundings and increases their risk
for, say, a slip-and-fall incident, and *because the hotel told them
they had to do that*, the hotel now bears more responsibility than
if they simply left people alone with their own choices.  For example,
the "china flats" I use to assuage the ignorant turn most commercial
tile flooring into a skating rink, and I'm way better off without them.

The real-life risks are far less a concern than most people think,
especially for well-conditioned feet like mine or those of anyone else
who routinely goes barefoot [and I'm certainly not the only one in
fandom].  Chasing some of the references I provided can help clear
that up very quickly.  The floors that convention attendees find
around the venue are probably more pristine than in their own homes.
For the hotel to ask for anything special concerning peoples' feet
is about as meaningful as asking everyone to wear a hat of some kind.
It boils down to nothing but prejudice and ignorance, which has no
place at an event like a convention.

My assessment stands.  Feel free to forward this around at your
own discretion.  As for mem-day-weekend activities, I'm already
considering some nice barefoot hikes up mountains.  It's definitely
A Thing these days.


And true to my word, some of us who had been part of last year's Balticon 50 fiasco instead spent some of our Mem Day weekend outdoors, happily barefooting around a popular local peak. Not only does the state of New Hampshire parks division have no problem with their visitors' choices, there are hints that some of their own rangers tackle the trails without shoes just for fun.  Many of the people we met along the way not only appreciated our point of view on footwear, some were positively in awe as we danced past them across those lovely slabs. 

_H*   170604

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