This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

30 January, 2013

DRAGON*CON AND THE SILENCE OF THE US SFF COMMUNITY

   I was going to write about something completely different today, but I can't in good conscience keep silence about this.

   You may have heard about Ed Kramer, one of the founders of Dragon*Con, and his recent arrest. If not, there's a couple of articles that will get you up to date. This has a good overview, and this has the recent developments.

   To sum up, Kramer has been avoiding going to court on child molestation charges since 2000. Claiming his health doesn't allow him to sit in a courtroom. At the same time he's been healthy enough to travel across the US, and ended up being arrested in a hotel room where he was alone with a 14 year old boy.

   The official word from Dragon*Con is that he has nothing to do with them, and hasn't had anything to do with them since his 2000 arrest. -Now it has emerged that he still gets money from Dragon*Con, since he owns a reported 34% of the for-profit convention.
   This has led to this article. Please read it, and especially this comment, that seems to give evidence that Kramer was wanted as a guest at Dragon*Con as late as 2008.

   I had heard about Kramer before, and as I understand it his name surfaces from time to time. But from what I gather, it was news to everyone that Kramer still gets a lot of money from Dragon*Con. I heard about it two days ago, and has been following things since then.
   I'm not surprised that Kramer's defenders have jumped in to attack those that brought this to light. We saw the same thing with the Readercon "incident" last year. But what does surprise me is the lack of comment from some corners of the US SFF community. (Although to be fair quite a few people have written about this.)

   Where are all the people who at once jumped up and called for a boycott of Readercon until the case was "solved" to their satisfaction? (Something I stand behind by the way.) Where are the high-profile people who since then has written plenty of articles on "Con-creepers"? (Also something I support.) Aren't these people concerned that money from a major SFF Con is used to keep a person who is accused of multiple accounts of child molestation out of jail? Isn't child molestation worse than creeping out grown women?
   The silence is starting to become telling...

   Well, to be honest I'm really not that surprised at the silence. When it was made public that Mel Gibson had "ranted" at, and threatened, his ex on the phone (, he said some pretty horrible stuff,) my Twitter stream was filled for almost a week with people who talked about how horrible he was. (And Hollywood would have nothing to do with him.)
   The same week Roman Polanski was fighting extradition from Switzerland, extradition to go back and serve his sentence for drugging and having sex with an underage girl. My Twitter stream was silent. (And Hollywood took out ads in support of Polanski, demanding he was allowed to "make movies in peace".)
   From the outside it seems that in the US creeping on a woman, or yelling at her over the phone, is worse than molesting children...

   From the information about Dragon*Con I have available to me, this is a no-brainer. I'd avoid it like the plague. -I know a boycott would hurt innocents (, vendors, local business, etc), but for me that is secondary to the fact that supporting it in any way helps a child molester stay out of jail.
   So I want to call on everyone who has been vocal about sexism, racism, and other social issues, in the SFF community to speak out. This isn't something that you can keep silent about if you have a shred of integrity.
   Personally I think that if you keep silent about this you have lost your right to speak up about other issues (, -I know I won't be listening to you if you do).
   And if you really want to show that all your talk about social issues isn't just grandstanding to get "Brownie-points", you'll make an announcement that you will have nothing to do with Dragon*Con until they make sure that Kramer gets no money.
   If letting Dragon*Con "die" is the only way to stop giving Kramer money, I think the SFF community should stand back and let that happen. (And maybe start up a replacement Con, so the only one suffering is Kramer.)

ETA: Stephen R. Bisette has posted more about this today. (Including a screenshot showing Kramer was to appear as Guest of Honour in 2008.)

9 comments:

  1. Very interesting post. I've been thinking recently about the issues of personal enjoyment vs. supporting "something" one doesn't agree with as regards to authors and their personal viewpoints or beliefs, but haven't quite figured out how to write about it. But that's kind of the same issue (from a different angle) as this situation. I've never been to a convention of any kind, and may not ever have a chance (or ability) to attend one myself, but I do think that situations like this need to be more "visual" so that people can be more aware of where their money is going. Good post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the praise. :-)

      I don't usually find these situations so easy to judge, but I found this one to be pretty extraordinary. From what I found in this case, this money could be the sole reason this guy isn't in jail. -So for me pretty clear cut.

      I know quite a few people who boycott authors, and (some of) the publishers that publish them. But I do also know that if you are really serious about that, and do enough research, you'll probably end up with few authors/publishers to buy from.
      I do however understand that people have a personal limit to who/what they will support, and that I respect.
      However I've seen lots of people talk the talk, but when it comes down to sacrificing something they like for their outspoken convictions, they don't follow through. And in those cases I'm not so understanding.

      Delete
  2. It's not true that this issue only came up recently or that no one has made any issue of it online.

    http://www.adistantsoil.com/2011/09/14/dragon-cons-ed-kramer-arrested-in-motel-with-fourteen-year-old-boy/

    Kramer has influential friends, and many people, like Nancy Collins, were abused and harrassed for speaking up about Kramer. Kramer isn't the only high profile professional who has wandering hands. He was just so blatant about it for so long that only his most deluded supporters stand by him now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for this. I am way too obsessed with this case than I should be. I think it's because Ed Kramer not only manipulated science fiction people but also Orthodox Jews into bleating about how he's really innocent.

    What sickens me now is all these people who are stating that they don't LIKE Ed Kramer but - blah blah corporate mansplaining as if that matters - and so they are going to DragonCON and helping Ed Kramer to pervert justice by giving him their money. They are pretending that their lame excuses somehow mitigates their personal responsibility in supporting child molesters.

    ANd I don't see Harlan Ellison, Robert J. Sawyer, Peter David, etc. going back on their disgusting stances in Ed Kramer's favor either.

    - Tim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read a lot of comments on articles (, going back several years,) before writing this article. It struck me how many used the "he's not been convicted" argument. When even the courts have stated that Kramer has been doing his best to stall going to court.

      When it comes to the recent articles (,those written after it was revealed Kramer still gets money from Dragon*Con,) the comments have quickly descended into two things.
      -We shouldn't let one person ruin Dragon*Con for all the others.
      -Dragon*Con can't just get rid of Kramer, and they can't just dissolve.

      The second of these arguments usually takes over pretty soon. And I find it totally irrelevant. Whatever contracts they have with hotels etc, no one can force the owners of Dragon*Con to hold a convention. I also noticed several people mentioning that there has been attempts to start other conventions in Atlanta, but they have been "crushed" by not being able to compete with Dragon*Con. So there is obviously people who are ready to replace it if it disappears.
      And I seriously doubt, considering what Kramer is accused of (, and from what I've seen is undoubtedly guilty of), that the hotels etc would mind someone else coming in and taking over Dragon*Cons contracts.
      -But everyoone seems to be focusing on what can't be done, instead of what can be done.

      As for the silence from most of the US SFF community, it really shows me who they really are. This should have been plastered all over some of the bigger (author) blogs out there. And if people were consistent in their stance against any form of abuse, the calls for a boycott should have been deafening by now.

      Delete
  4. **"The official word from Dragon*Con is that he has nothing to do with them, and hasn't had anything to do with them since his 2000 arrest. -Now it has emerged that he still gets money from Dragon*Con, since he owns a reported 34% of the for-profit convention."**

    Except that's not true. It's what Nancy A. Collins is saying, but it's not true.

    From Creative Loafing in Atlanta, a news source that even the boycott supporters cite for Kramer news, comes this quote from 2002.

    The wizard of Dragon*Con stands trial
    January 30, 2002

    "While Kramer is still a major Dragon*Con shareholder, no dividends were issued last year on the private stock, says Henry, adding that his longtime associate no longer has any other official connection to the event he ran like a ringmaster for 14 years."

    Then there's this quote from 2009 that was originally made in an Airlock Alpha interview and picked up by news sources like The Examiner and others.

    Dragon Con Owner Faces Lawsuit From Founder
    Mar-1-2009

    "A spokeswoman for Dragon Con told Airlock Alpha that Kramer has not been involved with the operation of the convention since the criminal charges were first brought against him several years ago.

    “Although he is a minority shareholder in the corporation that runs Dragon Con, he no longer has control over management decisions,” the spokeswoman said. “That loss of control may be what motivated him to bring these baseless allegations. Dragon Con has enjoyed great success since Mr. Kramer left, and we do not think a court will second guess the way the current management has run it.”"

    And, for that matter, even the figure being thrown around by the boycott supporters is not accurate. The $150,000 figure being thrown about as a dividend is not a dividend. It is a settlement from a lawsuit that Ed Kramer launched against Dragon*Con.

    **"ETA: Stephen R. Bisette has posted more about this today. (Including a screenshot showing Kramer was to appear as Guest of Honour in 2008.)"**

    No he wasn't. I can say that because I was there. I still have the official materials from that Dragon*Con and Ed Kramer is nowhere to be found in them.

    The simple answer that several people who work with programming have given is that it was most likely a glitch. It was on the Dragon*Con website for less than three full days. It also wasn't a new listing. If you use the same archive site that Bissette used and look up the past guest page, you can find that the listing, the word for word listing, was on their website at least as far back as 2006 (that's the furthest back the archive they cite goes) and likely as far back as when they set up that site. It's a listing in the past guests section and likely got bumped to active during updates. It also wouldn't be the first time it's happened with a listing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. **"and many people, like Nancy Collins, were abused and harrassed for speaking up about Kramer"**

    No, Collins got "abused and harassed" for acting like a nut.

    One of the first things she did back when this first started was level false claims about Kramer associate and SP Somtow that she had to retract. Then there was her almost instant attempt to cash in on the suffering of the victims by flogging her aborted book attempt on the subject. Then there was the bit with her and her late ex-husband standing outside the con handing out fliers that guests and pros found rather twisted and less than honest.

    By January of 2002, Creative Loafing in Atlanta writer Scott Henry (no relation to Pat) would describe her in the article ‘The Wizard of Dragon*Con Stands Trial’ in the following terms.

    “Collins attributes her fanaticism over Kramer to a sense of personal betrayal — she says he often asked to take her young stepson on caving trips — but it seems somewhat more complicated than that. Part of her zeal possibly stems from the guilty sting of having spent years feeling beholden to a fickle benefactor who has now been charged with a crime.

    As any zealot might, she views every new detail about Kramer through the lens of her own convictions.”

    Before anyone claims anti-Collins bias by the writer or the source, boycott supporters themselves reference articles by both that writer and that source that don’t have negative comments about Nancy as credible and knowledgeable on the matter and Nancy herself promotes and links to Scott Henry’s most recent ‘In the Shadows’ article published in Atlanta Magazine and now found on their website.

    ReplyDelete
  6. **"When even the courts have stated that Kramer has been doing his best to stall going to court."**

    You should read up more on it. Kramer certainly began jerking the chain of the legal system later on, but the fact of the matter is that the Gwinnett County legal system was screwing up left and right for years and still acted incompetent later on in the case.

    Edward Kramer was arrested and charged on August 25, 2000. By January of 2002, the following events had all taken place.

    The source for the original arrest itself was fully revealed to be an anonymous phone call. Kramer’s home was raided and the authorities made statements about items seized in the course of the search that friends and associates who had been in his home found to be unbelievable. More on that later. Kramer and his lawyers petitioned the courts to allow him to be held on house arrest in order to better deal with the longstanding health issues that he had and claimed that the jail’s medical staff were not properly treating or allowing him to treat. He was placed on house arrest with the condition that he have no contact with minors. Less than a week later he was returned to jail on the charges that a neighbor had contacted authorities to report that a young teenage boy who starred in Kramer’s film The Terror of Tate Manor was seen entering his home one evening. A 35 year old female marine testified that she was in fact the visitor that evening and her testimony was backed by the man who dropped her off; an MP. Further, the child in question and his mother testified that he was nowhere near Kramer’s home on the evening in question. Despite this, Kramer’s house arrest was ended and he was placed back in the jails.

    In short order, Kramer had his head slammed into a wall in the jail by a guard in full riot gear. Reports vary as to whether this caused neurological damage or aggravated preexisting damage, but what is not in dispute is that spinal surgery was ultimately required from it or that he suffered an injury to his head that created golf ball sized swelling. The courts themselves were under investigation for alleged improprieties or irregularities and a ruling against the jails in January of 2002 postponed Kramer’s January trial date and everyone else’s as well. All jury trials in Gwinnett County were halted for more than two months because the jury pool was ruled invalid.

    The jails had issues as well. They were facing charges from people other than Kramer and his legal team that they were not providing proper medical care to inmates. They were also facing harsh criticism and investigation due to the death of an inmate. And there were other reports of abuse. According to filed affidavits, inmates were prodded with stun guns while strapped into chairs and even sprayed with pepper gas while strapped down. One man was reportedly sprayed with a water hose while strapped down, pushed into a cold cell and left to dry.

    More below...

    ReplyDelete
  7. And, again, this is all just the first 13 to 14 months of this case. Within the next six months, evidence that was collected shortly after Kramer’s arrest and given much public attention by the investigators and the prosecution turned out to be hot air. One such example was the, reported at the time of seizure, over 200 pornographic movies taken from Kramer’s home that included scenes of a questionable nature with underage children. Judge Debra Turner threw out the evidence. The videos were mainstream features that you could get at your local store and included such titles as Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator and The Blues Brothers.

    Photos hyped by investigators and the prosecution as questionable and involving young boys in a state of undress turned out to be casting and early pre-production shots taken for a then in development Gary Busey film, Little Savages, described conceptually as Lord of the Flies in space, that Kramer had a hand in.

    The Georgia Court of Appeals would also find that the warrant served by Gwinnett County Police for the search itself was constitutionally inadequate, open-ended, and in violation of both the Georgia and US Constitutions. Things were then delayed again in 2003 when the DA’s office requested a delay to seek new evidence and file more charges.

    And all of this and more on the Gwinnett Courts and Jail's end of things is in just from the first three years alone.

    Did you read enough about the case to know how Kramer scanned the court and the DA? If you did, you'd see that it was less him being clever than them being idiots.

    They put him on house arrest later on and took his ankle bracelet monitor off. Two of the conditions of the house arrest were that he had to call in every Monday to verify that he was at home and that he could not travel without permission of the DA's. The thing is, the idiots never checked the phone he was using. So rather than calling in every Monday from a land line that was connected to the house, he was calling in from a cell with a local area code. Oh, and they never bothered to check in on him with random house visits despite knowing by then that he was a problem child and had been pulling stunts on them already.

    Then they let him go traveling to help his ailing mother. She'd been dead for over six months when he made the request. The courts granted it anyhow. And even when she was alive they came off as stupid. They would let him travel to take care of his sick mother and not question the inconsistency in that request VS his legal team's claim that he was to physically impaired to stay in a courtroom for more than a few hours a day.

    You know what? I'm a cop. I deal with my local legal system all of the time and there isn't a fellow geek in it who hasn't looked at how ineptly Gwinnett handled this and not considered it an embarrassment to our collective professions.

    I think that Kramer is guilty. I'm not boycotting Dragon*Con. As a matter of fact, my family and I are going this year. The reason I'm not boycotting Dragon*Con is that they have been trying to do the right thing here and most of the "facts" that Collins, Bissette, Murphy and others have been less than fully factual. I'm not big on boycotts to begin with, but when someone has to build a boycott of half truths and full out inaccuracies, there's no way in hell I'm supporting it.

    ReplyDelete