How not to respond to complaints about handsy guests at a con

It’s like a master class in stuffing your foot down your throat. I’m kind of impressed at how badly FanX/ComicCon screwed up.

So an author, Shannon Hale, wrote to con organizers to complain about how a regular guest was a little too touchy, making women attendees a bit uncomfortable. Look at how the organizer, Bryan Brandenburg, responded:

Maybe it is best that you sit this one out and then wait to hear how it went. I don’t think there is anything we can say to convince you to come and quite frankly I’m not willing to try. I know in my heart that we take this seriously and I don’t think you get it. I have four daughters and I’ve been sensitive to these issues for decades, long before it became trendy with #metoo.

First thing he does is basically say, “Yeah, lady, it’s your problem, not ours, and we aren’t interested in trying to deal with it.” Second thing: the “I have daughters” defense. So if you didn’t have any female offspring, you wouldn’t be interested in protecting women’s rights? And then, diminishing #metoo as “trendy”.

That is one messy paragraph, a regular pigs’ wallow of oblivious splatter. If you’re a conference organizer, you ought to print it out, have it framed on your wall, and consult it any time you get a complaint as what you ought to never, ever do. It’s just perfect example of insensitivity.

But Brandenburg is not done! He then posted Hale’s complaint with her email address on Twitter.

Argh, argh, argh. Would you feel comfortable reporting misbehavior to this guy? He just blew up the whole con’s credibility.

But wait! We haven’t even gotten to the target of the complaint yet. The complaint was about an author, Richard Paul Evans, who got a little too chummy with attendees.

She wrote that Evans “touched me several times and went so far as to kiss my cheek. I had never met him before. … but he made me very uncomfortable and even said, ‘You’re so pretty’ after he touched me, as though he couldn’t help himself.”

Brace yourself for another exercise in podiatric autophagy.

On Monday, Evans wrote that her complaint was not true. This false reporting makes me sound creepy, he said. I told her she was pretty, kindly, as I said, ‘You’re pretty, that’s not going to hurt sales.’ I was trying to make her feel good. Again, I was congratulating her and I was in public. I have a witness to the event. I also remember her coming back with one of my books to get it autographed.

Uh, you just confirmed her account, Mr Evans. You were condescending and told a writer that her appearance, not her writing, was her advantage. And you’re not even aware of how patronizing you sound.

Guest speakers are bowing out right and left from the con right now. It looks like the wrong people are leaving, though — like maybe the organizers need to find a different line of work.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Definitely one should always blame the victim.!

    Brandenburg does seem to be in the running for most insensitive male jerk of the year. I wonder if his daughters are disowning him?

  2. Onamission5 says

    I assume he regularly tells his daughters their negative experiences are wrong because of the feelings in his heart as well.

  3. PaulBC says

    “You sure is purty.” Suave fellow. Never heard of him, though I see he is an NYT bestselling author. It’s also a relief to see he is several years older than I am. At least I have some hope for the next generation.

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I know in my heart that we take this seriously…
    Maybe show it with your actions, instead of simply “knowing it in your heart”.
    – – –
    …and I don’t think you get it.
    You really expect everyone to be psychic and know your “deep thoughts” tucked in your heart.
    yeah you know. How can anyone else know?
    “I don’t think you get it” is beginning to rank up there with “Believe me” as a big red flag of dishonesty and arrogance.

  5. davidnangle says

    PaulBC @# 4, “Suave fellow. Never heard of him”

    Perhaps he’s just not attractive enough. He should smile more. Maybe spend some time in a gym.

  6. GiantPanda says

    Richard Paul Evans has doubled (tripled?) down:
    “These trends tend to swing too far the other way where innocent men are being caught up in, and we’re in a culture where it’s a war on men,” he told KUTV.
    “There are books written that say, again, that men should be taken out, that they should account for no more than 10 percent of the population. Well, that makes men feel like Jews in Nazi Germany.”


  7. sparks says

    Perhaps, if we ignore this fucktard, it’ll go away?
    Hope springs eternal.

  8. PaulBC says

    From the fox13news link above:

    “I kissed a woman on the cheek,” Evans said. “This is something we did in church for two years, twenty/thirty times a day in Italy. And it’s like, it’s just habit, I do it with my friends here. I do it with my friends back East. And Utah– they are a little bit stiff about that. I did it, won’t do it again. It obviously caused a problem with this woman.”

    Does he realize how lame this excuse is? Grownups learn to switch social context on a frequent basis. He knew he was not at his church in Italy. It’s up to him to evaluate local social expectations and adapt to them.

  9. whheydt says

    When the Committee got a harrassment complaint a few years ago, we had some our our people sit down and listen to the victim. We took the accused aside and talked with him. Then we threw the accused out of the con and told him to never come back.

    My registration system has the ability to block individuals from resistering. It’s not perfect, but that guy is in the relevant table together with why he is barred from the con…permanently.

  10. says

    This is something we did in church for two years, twenty/thirty times a day in Italy. And it’s like, it’s just habit, I do it with my friends here. I do it with my friends back East.

    So, is this actually true? Does this guy have a long history of kissing everyone he meets? Even big, hairy guys? If so, I might buy this excuse. Otherwise, it’s just a fig leaf.

  11. numerobis says

    You kiss in the air, not on the cheek. It’s easy to tell the difference.

  12. rietpluim says

    People know the funniest things in their hearts nowadays, don’t they?

  13. lrrr says

    I would not even think of touching someone I didn’t know. What’s up with all these men doing it?

  14. Crys T says

    Maybe in your experience, people have air-kissed, but in my 50+ years of interactions with people from all over the Mediterranean, including Italy, that has never happened to me even once.

  15. says

    I feel like you left out the worst bits about Evans. After the classic bit about how it would surely have been physically impossible because he’s just too busy to go around and “rub some woman’s arm” (“some woman,” classy) you get this:

    “The allegation is “bizarre,“ Evans said. ”It sounds like collusion and the fact that you are posting unvalidated allegations by anonymous sources is highly unethical.“”

    Thank you, Mr President.

  16. says

    Oh also from the article it sounds like he has one of those “quiet” reputations for this kind of behaviour. And Hale is not in fact a lone accuser. Oh god and co-founder Dan Farr is straight out of textbook talking about “good-intentioned hugging” and it really is the same damn show time and time again, isn’t it? I almost respect Brandenburg’s “BLAR screw you lady!” by comparison to this cliched cloying “oh he’s just a poor lad who didn’t mean no harm” nonsense.

    Anyway sorry to double-post. I thought FanX referred to my own local convention and got all personally invested and ticked off ahead of time.