Regarding Online Articles About Ryan Kopf
My entire goal in organizing conventions is to support nerds like myself. I grew up in a high school like any other, where playing sports and partying made you cool and getting a high GPA made you a total dork. Today I work every day to provide fellow nerds with places free of harassment where we can express ourselves and geek out as much as we want.
There’s been a smear campaign directed against me online since 2013, largely fueld by the organizers of other conventions. The organizers of competing businesses want to hurt my business, and so they’ll use any tactic they can against me.
So what are they saying?
There are false allegations of everything from tax evasion to sexual assault. Sort of “throw everything to the wall and see what sticks”.
All of these allegations are absolutely false, and I find them to be heinous and reprehensible.
My committment to the rights of women to not face sexual harassment, not face discrimination, and have fair and equal rights in areas of life, employment, reproduction, and opportunity has been unparalleled.
The dangers of sexual assault allegations today.
As you’ve seen with recent high-profile media cases, allegations of assault are being wielded as a weapon in revenge. You may be able to figure out why. If you look at case history from the Iowa courts websites you’ll see that an ex once tried to get a restraining order as a weapon against me – a man who abhors violence. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want her to go online and say all kinds of nonsense about me. The courts saw through this and instead granted me a restraining order against her.
Allegations, based in absolutely no evidence, can still be a powerful weapon today.
But in the court of public opinion there is no trial. There is no weighing of the evidence. Everyone comes with a pre-conceived notion of guilt and innocence and everyone has already made up their mind.
I do not claim my conventions are perfect. We have had complaints and problems like any other conventions. We have dealt with things like complaints of shortages of free ramen in our ConSweet to complaints on social media about registration line that reached a peak of two hours long at our largest convention. But countless other conventions have had a few problems, often far worse.
From arrests to bankruptcy, none of which apply to me, none of these conventions have earned the same level of exhaustive tabloid coverage I have. According to Kotaku, one minecraft convention may have taken in half a million dollars before mysteriously disappearing. That’s more than I’ve made in a decade of running conventions. And that story warranted only one article.
One of our villainous activities that received an entire article? Banning someone from the convention for coming without intending to buy a ticket (aka sneaking in).
I’m not opposed to some criticism. The scrutiny we’ve seen as an organization has caused us to scrutinize ourselves very closely. For example, we have created one of the best harassment policies in the convention scene, that goes far beyond paying lip-service to anti-harassment, but gives our staff the power to actually do something about harassment. I’ve seen countless conventions with strongly worded policies that do literally nothing when someone comes to them with a complaint of harassment. We, on the other hand, mobilize an entire team.
Our aggressive stance on harassment has earned me enemies, too. We kick people out of conventions for harassment and bullying all the time. These people then go online and slander me.
Someone insulting cosplayers in person is just a keystroke away from literally calling me Hitler online with anonymity and impunity.
AnimeCon.org’s stance on sexual assault.
The accusations against me and my company have been a tragedy for everyone involved, but they have also been an experience to learn. It has encouraged my organization to take any reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment more seriously than any other conventions. I started by writing one of the most comprehensive harassment policies ever seen at a convention.
Where we go from here.
I think protecting people goes beyond just a written policy. I have personally seen conventions use their written policies as a shield for bad behavior, saying “That can’t possibly have happened here, we have this great policy.” Enforcing my policy as vigorously as I do even earns us negative feedback.