Last week, a friend sent me the news that one of the founders of DragonCon, the large sci-fi/fantasy convention in Atlanta, GA, was arrested for child molestation. Ed Kramer was first arrested back in 2000 on charges that he sexually abused three teens but he was found to be physically incapable of standing trial. He was placed under house arrest though allowed to travel for medical treatment and to visit his mother.
In 2011, he was arrested again for violation of his bond conditions when he was found in a Connecticut hotel room with a camera and a 14-year old boy wearing nothing but a towel. After fighting extradition back to Georgia, he’s now finally back in jail waiting to face his charges.
This was all pretty horrifying, but I didn’t think much more of it due to the article stating that Kramer resigned from DragonCon back in 2000 shortly after his first arrest.
That is, until today, when Elyse alerted me to the fact that writer Nancy A. Collins is calling for a boycott of DragonCon based on the fact that they are apparently still paying him upwards of $150,000 per year. Collins points out that Kramer still holds stock in the convention and refuses to be bought out. DragonCon has had the past 12 years to come up with a solution to cut him out, such as dissolving and reincorporating, but they haven’t. Instead, according to this (trigger warning on this link) detailed account of Kramer’s transgressions, Collins has been “ostracized” from the convention circuit for her continued criticism of Kramer.
And so, a moral quandary appears!
While Kramer almost certainly has little to no control over the actual conference, every ticket sold does increase his personal wealth, which he has been using for the past 12 years to avoid trial and violate his bond. For the past four years, Skepchick has been unwittingly contributing to that by having a presence at DragonCon in the form of participation in the SkepTrack. I always enjoy DragonCon, and there are tons of great skeptics in the area who come out for it. And, I’ve always accepted the fact that DragonCon is a for-profit business. But I’m not sure how I can feel good about participating again when I know where so much of that money is going.
There’s a long-standing controversy over separating a work from its author. I’ve always strived to keep them separate and appreciate a work on its own, but when the author is a terrible person who benefits from my purchasing or participating in the work, it’s a different story. So to speak.
I’m not saying that I or Skepchick as a whole will definitely be boycotting DragonCon, as it’s something I have to think a lot about. But I do hope that DragonCon’s leadership will take this seriously and do the right thing, and save us all from a difficult decision.
EDIT: I’ve been informed that due to a legal battle between Kramer and DragonCon, DragonCon may be legally prohibited from defending themselves publicly at this time. I’ll be interested to hear their defense when they can state it.