The San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions has announced that Bay Area writer, Jon Del Arroz, membership status for WorldCon 76 has been downgraded from attending to supporting – effectively barring him from attending.
The announcement was made in a post that was made available on Facebook along with their official website. The post was made on January 3 and it stated the following:
“Worldcon 76 has chosen to reduce Jonathan Del Arroz’s membership status from attending to supporting. He will not be allowed to attend the convention in person. Mr. Del Arroz’s supporting membership preserves his rights to participate in the Hugo Awards nomination and voting process. He was informed earlier today of our decision via email.
We have taken this step because he has made it clear that he fully intends to break our code of conduct. We take that seriously. Worldcon 76 strives to be an inclusive place in fandom, as difficult as that can be, and racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our Worldcon. This expulsion is one step towards eliminating such behavior and was not taken lightly. The senior staff and board are in agreement about the decision and it is final.”
When fans on the Facebook page began to ask about the reason behind the ban, it was revealed that Del Arroz had stated in a blog that he was planning to wear a body camera during the event. The reason given why a body camera is a violation of their policy, guests need to ask someone for their permission before taking a photo and a body camera violates this rule because it would be hidden.
Reaching out to Del Arroz via Facebook to get his side of the story, he believes that the ban may have been motivated because of his Hispanic heritage and his conservative politics. He has noted that he has been the victim of harassment from trolls along with some writers because of race and political views.
Del Arroz stated that he reached out to Chairmen Kevin Roche back in November regarding his personal safety but received no reply. He further added that the only other email contact he had with the WorldCon staff was when he was informed that his membership status downgraded to supporting and he would receive a refund.
The Incident Response Team of Worldcon 76 was contacted for more details and to verify that Del Arroz tried contacting them in November regarding his safety. However they only stated that they had no further comment on the matter.
In response to the ban, several groups and fans have called for a boycott of WorldCon 76 unless Del Arroz is allowed to attend. Most notable has been that Castalia House has announced they are boycotting WorldCon 76 in response to the ban.
— Castalia House (@CastaliaHouse) January 3, 2018
Speaking to someone who has experience volunteering at local conventions but doesn’t want to be named, he stated that announcing someone being ban from an event is not unheard but is very rare. In regards to Del Arroz, it’s always controversial when the ban is being issued to a high profile individual so they rather make a statement to address any concerns. He further added that each con has their own policy regarding body cameras but its use is often looked down upon.
Worldcon is one of the largest science fiction conventions in the world and notable for honoring writers with the Hugo Award. The 2018 event will take place in San Jose while the guests of honor will include Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Spider Robinson.
Jon Del Arroz is an acclaimed science fiction writer from the Bay Area whose work has been featured in several anthologies and is the author of Gravity of the Game and Star Realms: Rescue Run. His latest novel, For Steam and Country, was released in 2017 and has been highly praised.