With 97,000 attendees last year, this year’s Calgary Comic Expo – billed as the 2nd largest in Canada and the 4th largest in North America – should’ve been a blast for all the guests, exhibitors and visitors.
For one group promoting comic books and free expression, though, the trip turned into a humiliating nightmare – through no fault of their own.
Eight members of the women’s creative artistic group the Honey Badger Brigade (once located in space BF 3821 at the Expo) – Anna Cherry, Brian Martinez, Alison Tieman, Mike Stephenson (of YouTube channel DoctorRandomercam), Karen Straughan (GirlWritesWhat), Hannah Wallen, Sage Gerard, and Rachel Edwards – had their exhibitor’s booth shut down by security just before the doors opened to the public on Friday, April 17, the 2nd day of the 4-day exposition. They were then summarily ejected from the premises along with Alison’s husband and Anna’s companion – 10 ejections in all.
One leader of the cooperative group – comic producer Alison Tieman – was also blacklisted permanently from attending similar Comic Expositions across Canada, effectively destroying her ability to promote her art.
Their crime? Alison politely answered a question during a panel discussion.
Yes. That’s it. No threats, no violence – nothing of the sort. Here’s the question and Tieman’s firm but respectful answer.
After a question involving “Men’s Rights Activitist types” (MRAs) comes up, Alison asks politely “Would you like us to field that question?” twice, and then added “…because I am a Men’s Rights Activist…”
The feminist on the panel interrupts to give her enthusiastic consent: “Okay!”
Alison: “…and you can hate on me. The reason why I don’t like feminism is because you promote this idea that women are defined by being victims. If you look at the context of all of your issues, men also face considerable problems as well, and they need to be brought into the story and not just for men’s sake – because this hides men’s vulnerability – [but] also for the sake of challenging the notion that women are defined as victims.”
Apparently, if you’re not a woman who is a victim at the Calgary Comic Expo, the feminists there will work like hell to turn you into one.
Two of the men in the group – Sage and Mike – uploaded a video the evening of the ban summarizing the expulsion “fiasco.”
Now, the Honey Badgers’ weren’t out to harass anyone at the Calgary Expo they were there to have fun and promote their art. They had constructed costumes for “cosplay,” defined by Google as a portmanteau of the words “costume play”…a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea.
There were plans to bring bathing suits to visit nearby hot springs in the Calgary area, play PS4 video games and board games. They looked forward to meeting each other in person – many for the first time – and also celebrities, exchanging fist bumps with beloved characters like “Hershel” from The Walking Dead (actor Scott Wilson).
In a phone interview, the Badgers said they had little inkling that trouble was afoot – there were a lot of friendly conversations at the booth and the folks at neighboring exhibitor tables helped them with things like box cutters – to, you know, open boxes, not threaten feminists. There were no confrontations or anything amiss.
The Badgers were looking forward to meeting some of their fans and promoting their comics and posters, and comic book authors Alison and Brian were especially keen to increase exposure of their work.
Everything seemed to be going well until out of nowhere, security appeared. There was no warning. They knew exactly where and how to hit them.
During the interview I badgered the Honey Badgers with questions:
Did you have any warning that the ban was coming? No.
Did they issue any warning strikes or make any other attempts to defuse the situation? No. It was a done deal – shut the booth down and get out.
Interestingly, the rules for the Expo state that an “Oral Warning” is the first method that security will use in case of a problem. Security apparently violated their own published protocols by immediately jumping to steps 2 and 3 (expulsion and lifetime ban).
Adherence to one’s published protocols is important because failing to do so can become an element in a fraud case – the Honey Badgers paid money to lease their space and the Expo then broke the contract, kicked them out and kept their money. In essence, the Expo appears to have defrauded them via a false or deceptive promise.
Did the Expo explain the reason you were being banned? Not really.
Initially, security noticed that members of the Honey Badgers were recording them and security seemed unwilling to go on record, perhaps because they knew what they were doing was nefarious. They tried to separate Alison from the group but her husband would not be parted from her.
The claim was that Alison had derailed a panel Question and Answer session – a session Alison had politely sought – and received – approval to join. A session that did not become heated or even off track. Indeed, Alison calmly explained how the victim narrative of feminism harmed both men and women. What should have been an insightful moment of the Expo became instead a “thoughtcrime” straight out of Orwell’s 1984.
The security men also claimed they had received 25 complaints about Alison’s one brief statement. No evidence of these complaints was produced or offered – if they came from Twitter, it is not even clear that any of the complainers even attended the Expo.
Feminists are famous for “brigading” – ganging up via social media in order to amplify some imagined slight to titanic proportions. Perhaps security was lazy, naïve or both but they took these alleged complaints as some sort of gospel account of a serious offense without bothering to investigate them thoroughly.
Did the Expo allow you time to defend yourself? No.
The Honey Badgers were presumed guilty with no full investigation and were given no opportunity to defend themselves.
Did the Expo offer you any appeals process? No.
The Honey Badgers were kicked out of the Expo without recourse.
Did the Expo offer to refund your money? No. All the monies are forfeit with no recompense.
Did security let you discuss your options out of their earshot? No.
Security even denied the Honey Badgers the right to counsel or to simply discuss their options privately.
The Honey Badgers perceived that the security guards seemed embarrassed and ill-at-ease with themselves, as if they knew what they were doing was wrong or cowardly. It is easy to imagine why they might feel that way – clearly, they were scaring and humiliating the Honey Badgers in ways clearly prohibited by their own guidelines.
The ironies in this tragic situation abound. A group of women who support free expression were harshly censored. Feminists who claimed they support women and minority artists got a minority artist’s career derailed and a woman artist’s career destroyed.
An exposition that claimed to support women, minorities and free speech kicked out women and minorities for exercising free speech.
How do feminists expect to attract followers when they treat women like shit? Hell, how do they even sleep at night?
Toward the end of my interview with them, the Honey Badgers made one thing clear: they didn’t want any talk of boycotts or anything else that would hurt the livelihood of the exhibitors in the same way that the Honey Badgers were injured. Their argument is with the shabby ways they were treated by the Expo organizers.
Several folks on twitter asked where they could buy Honey Badger comics and other merchandise now that their Expo time ended prematurely. The Honey Badgers are still working this out but you can keep an eye on their website.
The Honey Badgers did suggest that the “super sponsors” be contacted with complaints about the situation.
Both the organizers and the “super” sponsors can be found here.
Comics legend Stan Lee was a no-show at Calgary Comic Expo this year. Common sense, tolerance, fairness and decency also went lacking.