My friend Pádraig Ó Méalóid had a bit of an upset recently – organisers of the Octocon SF convention contacted him to tell him he was banned from the convention for his ‘attitude’. They then take the extremely cowardly route of saying they refuse to explain further what their reasoning is and will not debate it. Now I don’t know what their reasons are (since they make vague accusations but refuse to back them up properly), but to say there are reasons and then refuse to give them or to engage in civilised discussion makes me naturally lean to the suspicion that actually they don’t have any proper reasons that any independent person would consider serious enough to ban someone from a convention (something I’ve not heard of happening before, its pretty unprecedented, especially involving a well known member of the SF community). In fact sod being polite, I’d say that whole approach smacks of petty mindedness and childishness – by all means, Octocon organisers, explain properly and I and many others may revise that opinion, but if you won’t then I can only assume your being incredibly foolish.
Secondly I’ve known Pádraig for years; we both wrote extensively in our own spare time for The Alien Online promoting good writing; he’s written articles, essays and interviews (most recently a fabulous, in-depth piece with Bryan Talbot which we ran on the Forbidden Planet blog – part 1 here, part 2 here, highly recommended) and run successful conventions. He’s supported good reading and good authors and artists for years and as such has gained the respect and friendship of many in the science fiction and comics communities, fans, readers, writers and artists, from new talent to some of the best known names. So for Octocon to take this unprecedented action to someone many of us hold in high esteem (as well as considering a personal friend) without real explanation is not only going to give us a negative impression of them, its going to make quite a few of us rather angry to see him treated in this manner, to say nothing of it smacking of a rather undemocratic and unaccountable approach by evading establishing reasons or proper explanations, which is, frankly, baffling. I await them giving some proper explanation for this to prove they aren’t simply being vindictive over minor criticisms. And meantime I won’t be encouraging anyone to attend the convention.