Edited on 3/25/2013 to switch the resource links at the bottom to the blog’s D*C link page.
Edited on 4/4/2013 to expand and clarify the information on the events around the HWA and SP Somtow in 2000.
Nancy A. Collins has long made her desire to have no part of Dragon*Con clear to all; sometimes fanatically so. Her stated reason was that Ed Kramer, one of the original founding members of Dragon*Con, was arrested in 2000 and charged with engaging in three counts of child molestation against two brothers as well as another child who would later come forward. Nancy’s reaction was a very personal one. Nancy had a working relationship with Kramer, a well-known editor in the genre fields, throughout the 1990s as well as a personal one. Collins would later claim that Kramer was “grooming” both her and her then husband in order to get closer to their younger family members and speak of her feelings of personal betrayal.
It’s now 2013, and soon to be going on 13 full years later, and Kramer has still not stood trial.
The reasons for this are many and complicated as well as long in the telling. But they will have to be told for both those with no knowledge of what Dragon*Con is and those who are aware of the boycott but only know the portions of the story that the boycott’s most public mouthpieces choose to tell.
Dragon*Con is a for-profit, multi-media genre convention held annually in Atlanta, Georgia. It was launched in 1987 and run by John Bunnell, David Cody, Robert Dennis, Mike Helba, Pat Henry and Ed Kramer. This core group formed the original Dragon*Con Board of Directors. Attendance in the first year was estimated to be 1,400. The 2012 attendance is believed to have been just over 50,000 people. It now puts an estimated $42 million into the pockets of Atlanta businesses each Labor Day weekend and the convention itself receives coverage in local media like the Atlanta Business Chronicle all the way up to national coverage on channels like CNN.
Kramer was a significant part of Dragon*Con’s growth from its 1987 start until he stepped down after his arrest in 2000. This was due in large part to his connections in the genre community. He had worked with some of the biggest names in SF and Horror literature and was able to convince many of these people to be guests and/or to convince others to be guests. As the celebrity numbers grew, so too did the convention’s attendance and reputation.
It was actually during this period of growth that Ed Kramer began to acquire a following known as “Ed’s Kids” by local convention goers. Ed’s Kids were usually older children to young teens who would follow Ed around like an entourage and assist with various small projects. Some questioned the group and their ever present position by Ed’s side and some, such as Roland Castle, longtime local convention rival and founder of the now defunct Atlanta area Magnum Opus convention, made open and public comments about any questionable or negative rumor surrounding Kramer and the Ed’s Kids. Others who knew Ed Kramer paid it no mind. He was known at the time for being a dedicated volunteer at the DeKalb children’s shelter, a mentor to numerous troubled boys, straightening out a lot of kids who had drug problems and as a surrogate father to children of single friends.
It was also during this period that the first known official allegation and charges were made. In 1997, a 16-year-old boy told police that he had met Kramer through Dragon*Con when he was only 11-years-old and that Kramer had been molesting him ever since. Kramer was arrested, but the charges were dropped when the 16-year-old recanted his account of events and stated that nothing had actually happened. After this arrest, some would state that where there is smoke there is fire. However, for many who knew Ed Kramer, the recanting of the accusations and the dropping of the charges were vindication of their belief that Kramer was an innocent man unjustly accused.
Then in 2000, Kramer was charged and arrested on three counts of child molestation. The two young teens who made the claim were the children of a woman that Kramer had been dating for going on three years at that point. The two met through a telephone dating service, but the mother of the two boys later stated that she and Kramer had never had sex during the entire time of the relationship.
The responses in the genre and convention going community were immediate. Some, such as Roland Castle, declared the arrest as an “I told you so” moment, but his response was written off by many as that of a man with an ax to grind. Many more who knew Kramer, from the other Dragon*Con co-founders to noted writer and critic Harlan Ellison, reacted with disbelief. Some were in perhaps stunned disbelief while others simply did not believe Kramer to be guilty. And then there were the small few who seemed to be moved to almost fanatical actions.
One such person who has been described thusly was Nancy A. Collins. Collins had by then been a longtime associate of Kramer. Kramer had met Collins and then husband Joe Christ in the early 1990s. At that time, Collins was becoming well known in the comic book community for writing The Swamp Thing and in the book world for having written Sunglasses After Dark. Christ was at that time known primarily for indie film work that leaned towards the vulgar. Kramer would book both Collins and Christ at Dragon*Con. While there was no pay involved, this gave the two of them an opportunity to promote themselves, sell books and make new industry contacts while strengthening old ones. It was also at this time that Collins and Kramer began to collaborate on collections of erotic horror stories. Their big score was getting a Stephen King story, Dark Love, for their second volume of works.
Kramer was also working with White Wolf, a then small, locally based gaming company, as an editor for their books and hooked Collins up with them as a writer. White Wolf would in short order strike gold in the gaming community with their Vampire: The Masquerade line. White Wolf would go on to become a major vendor at Dragon*Con and regularly rented out large portions of the dealer area. Years later, Kramer would launch a lawsuit against them over royalties that he claimed had not been paid to him.
Collins and Christ ran into money troubles in 1999. Kramer offered to get Collins a clerical job with Regional Technical Service Agency, where Kramer worked as a technical advisor and wrote grant applications, if she would move to the Atlanta area. Kramer also arranged for Christ to have a small job with Dragon*Con. Both Collins and Christ continued to have professional associations with Kramer as well as borrowing money from him during their time of financial struggle. When Kramer was arrested in 2000, Collins left the job he had secured for her and began an almost immediate crusade against him. Collins claimed that she had had no knowledge of the 1997 charges at this time and only learned of them after his 2000 arrest.
Collins would then turn her attention to finding anything and everything she could to accuse Kramer with. She fanatically went over every blog and posting that she could find discussing Kramer and copied and pasted select court documents online. She went to acquaintances of Kramer and asked them about anything and everything that might give her tidbits that she could pass on to Gwinnett prosecutors or to any interested press. She and her then husband Christ would also make fliers to hand out containing anything they could find that was negative about Kramer and that were, in some cases, seen as being borderline anti-Semitic in nature by many. Many of her actions during this time made it easy for those who then defended Kramer to subscribe to the idea of ulterior motives for her actions. One such thing was Collins pitching a book deal on the events to a local publisher. Collins has since stated that she had abandoned such plans. Other reports indicated that her agent refused to represent it and then released her as a client.
Another such action not only brought questions about her motives and actions, but in fact brought threats of legal action against her.
Almost immediately after Kramer’s arrest, Collins sent a three paragraph message to Brian Keene. Keene at that time ran the subscription only Jobs In Hell newsletter. The message was directed to “friends and associates” in the entertainment industry and was published in Hellnotes as an open call for information about Kramer. The problem was that it didn’t stop there.
Nancy ended the second paragraph by implying that she had privileged information. She stated that all should be aware that the situation was “far bigger, and far nastier” than anything anyone had read in the papers or seen on the news. She then immediately followed that by making claims that the police were also interested “SP Somtow and his involvement with minor children” and would like information from anyone who “witnessed any suspect or inappropriate behavior by Ed Kramer and/or SP Somtow with young boys” for their investigation.
S.P. Somtow, for those who do not know, was the then President of the Horror Writer’s Association. This caused a stir among the Hellnotes community. This then leaked out and had others curious as to what was being discussed. At this point, someone copied the letter and posted it onto a public forum. At this point, all hell broke loose.
The firestorm of responses in the community was swift and not very flattering to Collins. Kramer had only just been arrested and many still believed him to be innocent. For some, seeing someone that Kramer had so often worked to help in the previous decade acting in such a manner caused a powerful and negative backlash against Collins. Others who were not pro-Kramer also reacted badly to the letter. Some questioned what Collins thought she was doing and some were upset that she was taking apparently privileged information, information not yet in the public media, and making it public. By making such information public, Collins was seen as either dragging Somtow’s name into the public square when those actually behind investigation did not want it there or possibly damaging the investigation’s ability to gather information from now forewarned subjects.
And then there was the response from Somtow and his lawyer. Interestingly, in questioning the authorities about the claims being made by Collins, they discovered that there was no such interest or investigation was underway. The response was to threaten Collins with legal action if she did not retract her statements. On October 12, 2000, not even a full two months after Kramer’s arrest, Collins issued a retraction where she stated that she had no knowledge of any such investigation into Somtow.
Collins resigned from the HWA in short order. Her stated reasons being that she could not be a part of any organization that remained silent on such matters or defended an alleged child molester. These statements were met with derision and scorn by many in the horror community. The HWA had certainly not defended Kramer. Their only statements at the time was that they as an organization would neither defend nor attack the man publicly in what was a still young case. Beyond that, her own actions in the matter had isolated her from the group, so her stance was seen as a joke by many.
These actions all had an impact on how Nancy A. Collins was seen by others during this from day one and The way Collins was perceived to be acting was seen by many as like that of a zealous crusader who fit any facts she could find to her narrative, actions she continues to greater or lesser degrees to this very day, and only created a greater divide in the fan community and among the professionals that were later to be taking sides in the matter. Collins and Christ were essentially ostracized by much of the horror community after that and, unfortunately, they even received death threats from some of the extreme fringe.
But for those close to Kramer who still at that time fully believed in the man’s innocence, Collins was pointed to as an example of everything wrong with those who were attacking Kramer. In Collins, they had a person who was clearly intent on warping anything she could find into something negative about Kramer and those who supported him whether what she found was actually negative or not and now had handed them the ability to point to her as someone with no regard for having the facts behind her accusations.
But Nancy A. Collins was not the only public problem that the people who wanted Kramer tried and convicted had to put up with in the early years of Kramer’s incarceration. Unfortunately, the local criminal justice system seemed determined to provide every opportunity to the pro-Kramer side to point to fraud, injustices and abuses in the system and the possibility that Kramer was in fact an innocent man. If someone were to write a script based on the events of the first few years of the case, but did not tell anyone that it was based on real events, and tried to pass it off as a serious drama; no one who read it and read what was happening with the courts and jails during this period would see it as believable. In the first few years after his arrest, the legal system in the Gwinnett area did everything it could, both with matters directly relating to Kramer as well as matters related to others, to give the people protesting Kramer’s innocence all the ammo they needed and more.
In the first few years after Kramer’s arrest, he was assaulted and inured in jail by a guard. His injuries were not properly attended to and he was not allowed proper treatment for pre-existing health issues. He would later undergo surgery for problems that Kramer claimed were related to the injury sustained in the assault.
He was moved to house arrest to deal with some of these issues and others. He was then almost immediately brought back into court on the charges that a neighbor had reported seeing a young boy who was an associate of Kramer’s and the star in the Kramer produced Terror at Tate Manor entering his home; a violation of the terms of his house arrest. Kramer’s team claimed that the visitor was a woman and had a 34 year old female Marine testify that she was the visitor on the night in question. They further had testimony from the man who dropped her off, an MP, and testimony from the child in question and the child’s mother that the child was nowhere near Kramer’s home that night. Despite this, Kramer was still returned to jail.
Maneuvers by the prosecution only added to the belief by many that Kramer was innocent of the charges. Early on, a warrant was obtained to search Kramer’s house. The warrant was so poorly and so broadly written that it was, after the fact, found to be unconstitutional by both Georgia’s standards as well as federal standards. Some of the “evidence” collected from Kramer’s home also caused eyebrows to be raised. Word was sent out that over 200 video tapes of a pornographic nature, many depicting questionable acts between men and boys, had been seized in Kramer’s home. This particular “fact” became a talking point about the case in the local area over time. Over a year later the tapes were deemed to be of no use as evidence or relevant to the case. The reason for this is that the vast majority of them could have been bought off of the local Walmart shelves and included such titles as Gladiator, The Blues Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and Conspiracy Theory. There was a delay from another legal challenge that involved the jury pools for every case getting ruled invalid and delaying every case in Gwinnett including Kramer’s by months.
Defenders of Kramer were also able to point to other things in and around the local legal system and jails to bolster the idea that corruption and abuses were rampant and to try and reinforce the position of Kramer’s innocence. The Sheriff’s Department was investigated for falsifying arrest records and overtime reports, the jails were in the news for abuses that included the deaths of at least two inmates and the health care provider used by the local jails, Prison Health Services, was starting to face multiple complaints and lawsuits over failure to provide proper care for inmates in multiple jails; a complaint that Kramer had lodged as well. At one point the cases, all cases and not merely Kramer’s, were delayed by an investigation around the courts. Things were then delayed again when the DA’s office put the case on hold in 2003 to seek new evidence and file more charges. And one delay, a perfectly excusable and acceptable one, was caused by the death of the mother of one of the prosecutors.
And through all of this, Kramer himself also created delays. Many of his claims of having problems with long appearances in court and of issues in the jail revolved around his health and pre-existing medical conditions. He and his legal team used this to keep him out of the GwinnettCounty jails and courtrooms as much as they possibly could. But these were neither as noticeable to Kramer’s supporters just yet nor seen for how blatant that they would later become perceived as.
But all of the delays not related to Kramer himself and more gave the friends and acquaintances of Kramer who believed in his innocence all the more motivation to help a friend that they believed was wrongly imprisoned and suffering abuses at the hands of an inept, if not downright crooked, system. Almost everyone who knew Kramer, from people he worked with at Regional Technical Service Agency to professionals in the fantasy, science-fiction and horror community began to seek out ways to help Kramer with his legal troubles. A website was set up to assist the cause of helping him and the idea of a charity auction suggested. The charity auctions would eventually come to pass with donations of items for sale from many in the genre community. At least one auction was organized by Eric L. Watts, the now former organizer for Dragon*Con’s Trek Trak.
But as the case dragged on through 2002 and into 2003, some people began to take a different view of Kramer’s legal maneuvering. While perhaps not yet ready to declare a belief of Kramer’s guilt, some started to question some of the delays Kramer was creating while simultaneously declaring that he wanted to clear his name. Others saw taking steps to create additional distance between Dragon*Con and Kramer as a good idea.
Pat Henry approached Kramer about selling his shares in the convention to Henry. Reportedly, the fellow Dragon*Con founder managed to convince Kramer to sell 2,050 shares of his stake in the convention over time. Kramer would not sell all of his shares however, but this move allowed Kramer to be fully minimized by the convention. Dragon*Con essentially cut ties with Kramer. It was reiterated by Henry that Kramer, while still a part owner due to his shares, was no longer a controlling partner and had nothing to do with running, planning or organizing the convention. Later, Kramer would launch a lawsuit against Dragon*Con and Henry over, among other things, these shares and claim that he was conned into undervaluing the shares he sold and that the other Dragon*Con founders had been trying to illegally leverage/force him out.
In 2004 and 2005, Kramer supporters started threatening a boycott of Dragon*Con over the convention declaring that no auctions would be held to raise funds for Kramer or his legal defense fund either through or at Dragon*Con or with the Dragon*Con name attached to the auction. Talk of the boycott was shot down by Eric L. Watts and others who stated that such a boycott was foolish and that the growth of the convention during the Kramerless years was already enough to make such a boycott by Kramer supporters meaningless to the convention’s bottom line.
Kramer’s actions in the following years would drive away all but his most loyal supporters. He even lost members of his legal team; some not even fully paid. While many were still not yet ready to declare Kramer guilty, some still citing the concept of innocent until proven guilty, many were beginning to view Kramer as equally responsible, if not more so, for the delays in the trial than Gwinnett County’s legal system. Public support for Kramer would further erode as the next few years passed.
Kramer would continue to get placed on house arrest over claims of abuse in the jails and for medical reasons. Kramer and his lawyers repeatedly stalled any attempt to set a trial date by presenting evidence that Kramer was physically incompetent to stand trial. They said that Kramer suffered from a degenerative spinal condition and chronic pain, pain they claimed was aggravated by the jail assault early on in his incarceration, that would make it impossible for him to remain alert and assist in his own defense. But these claims were often contradicted by Kramer’s other requests. Kramer would request permission to travel to take care of his ailing, cancer stricken mother. Interestingly, the court would grant him such a request without apparently questioning this seeming contradiction in his abilities. He would continue to meet with people to work deals to involve Kramer with low budget independent productions during this time period as well. And Kramer played games where he deceived the court.
During this time, the other owners of Dragon*Con were taking what legal steps they could to remove Kramer from the convention. They would continue to pressure Kramer to sell his remaining shares as well as withholding some of the annual dividends that Kramer’s remaining shares would earn him. This last action would make up a part of the legal actions Kramer would in later years launch against Dragon*Con. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kramer claimed that Henry’s management of the convention cost him revenue and that Henry had deceived Kramer, convincing him to sell his majority stake in the convention, and withholding money owed to him. According to court documents, between 2004 and 2006, Henry tried to buy Kramer out, eventually offering as much as $500,000, but Kramer refused to sell without seeing a balance sheet. So Henry simply withheld Kramer’s dividend until Kramer threatened legal action. Kramer again sued to obtain what he claimed was his withheld 2011 dividend.
And in 2011, Kramer was for all intents and purposes a free man. In 2009, the presiding judge, Judge Beyer, the second on the case so far, had allowed Kramer to sell his home and move to Chamblee to care for his mother. The sale of the house was to in part to address Kramer’s finances. Kramer was in debt and facing creditors by this time as well as owing money to his lawyers. Other reports indicate that his house may have been foreclosed on. His ankle bracelet was removed as well, although most saw this as minor given that the man’s publicly stated physical condition was so poor. He was however given three bond conditions with this new freedom. Kramer had to stay away from minors, he was allowed no travel without prior authorization and he was required to call the DA’s office every Monday to confirm his whereabouts. In 2011, Judge Beyer even granted permission for Kramer to travel to New York to further aid his sick mother. One fact that Kramer neglected to tell the court was that Kramer’s mother had died six months earlier.
In September of 2011, Kramer was arrested in Milford, Connecticut. He was there without the knowledge of the DA’s office and it was discovered that the phone that Kramer was using to call in each Monday was in fact a cell phone and not a landline. Kramer was in Milford to help film an independent movie. Milford Police were called to the hotel that the indie production was using to investigate a complaint that Kramer had an underage boy in his hotel room. When police arrived, Kramer was found to have a 14-year-old boy with him in his room. He was arrested on the spot for violations of the terms of his bond.
Kramer claimed that he was the guardian of the child; a claim in part corroborated by the mother. In questioning, Kramer, the boy and the boy’s mother stated that Kramer had had no inappropriate contact with the child. This was beside the point to Gwinnett authorities and anyone else following the case. Kramer was now known to be in multiple violations of his bond and had been shown to have been deceiving the GwinnettCountyDA’s office for a sustained period of time. They made it clear that they wanted Kramer returned to them promptly. Kramer sat in jail in MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in Suffield, Connecticut, one of the only facilities in the state that was equipped to deal with Kramer’s medical demands, and fought extradition for as long as he could, mostly citing his usual claims, but lost his fight. Kramer’s extradition process started in December of 2011.
Gwinnett DA Danny Porter was at the time of the extradition confident that he could win a guilty verdict but he worried about Kramer’s incarceration. After watching Kramer spend the last decade frustrating and manipulating the state’s legal system to avoid his trial, he voiced fears that Kramer would soon have a new objective to play games with; a medical reprieve.
“If Ed Kramer’s convicted tomorrow and sentenced to twenty years, what’s the Georgia prison system going to do with him?” Porter said. “The chances of him serving significant time, given the costs of maintaining him, are negligible. That’s the elephant in the room and he probably knows it.”
Kramer is still, going on two years later, awaiting trial while now finally, as of January 2013, back in jail in Gwinnett, Georgia. He is also still engaged in legal actions against Henry and Dragon*Con.
And that brings us to 2013. Nancy A. Collins took the most recent news about Kramer as well as the most recent legal actions surrounding his lawsuit with Dragon*Con to launch a boycott drive against Dragon*Con using the forces of social media. Her claim is that Dragon*Con is funding Kramer’s legal fight via his ownership of the shares he still holds. My problem with Nancy A. Collins is that she has spent over a decade becoming a blind crusader. She certainly made it clear in the early years that much of her anger was at what she saw as a personal betrayal and violation of trust and she shows all the signs of someone who has had that little switch flipped and decided, consciously or not, that the cause is more important that the facts. As such, she tends to say things that are either not true or simply asinine. Unfortunately, these things are often repeated by those who don’t know any better and now support the boycott.
One of the things that she repeatedly states is that the most recent lawsuit news has let the cat out of the bag with regards to Kramer’s continued financial ties to Dragon*Con. Her claim is that Dragon*Con has lied and tried to hide the fact that Kramer was still receiving money from his connections to Dragon*Con while publically stating that Kramer no longer has any part in organizing or running the convention. This is simply not true. There are statements from Dragon*Con on the matter as far back as 2002 and running all the way up to 2009, or 2011 if you count new articles citing 2009 quotes, where they identify Kramer as someone who still owns shares in the company.
Nancy is also fond of saying that the people running Dragon*Con have dragged their feet for 12 years with regards to doing anything to remove Kramer from Dragon*Con. This is, again, untrue. And this is something that she herself must know to be untrue since she herself will cite passages from articles or court papers that also include information regarding the efforts that the other owners of Dragon*Con have made to push Kramer out; efforts that, as noted above, occasionally skirted the line of illegality enough for Kramer to launch at least partially successful legal action against them.
Nancy also likes to mindlessly repeat the line that Dragon*Con knows what it needs to do and should do it. One of the options that Nancy and the supporters of the boycott suggest Dragon*Con should do is just simply dissolve and reform under newly formed ownership that no longer includes Kramer. Because we all know that it’s just that simple in real life.
The problems with such a suggestion just on the face of it are fairly substantial. Dragon*Con can’t simply dissolve and reform as a new business entity and just start working again like nothing happened. They’re a major business entity at this point and they’ve made long term contracts with other businesses. This wouldn’t be like filing for bankruptcy. They would be on the hook for those contracts and there is no guarantee that they would be able to obtain new contracts later after walking out of the old ones. There’s also no guarantee that this wouldn’t bring legal action from other businesses against Dragon*Con. There’s also the little matter of Kramer and his lawyers. If the owners of Dragon*Con were to dissolve the business entity and reform it again with the sole intention of cutting Kramer out of his due, then Kramer and his lawyers would be lining up for the payday of a lifetime. At the very least, even if he couldn’t make a successful suit on the basis of them defrauding him out of his fair stake in the business, the ongoing litigation would likely freeze any further business operations and possibly put Dragon*Con out of business. Plus there’s the little matter of the various legal action that Kramer has been launching at Dragon*Con already.
See, Dragon*Con is, again, a for profit business in Georgia. That means that Dragon*Con is restricted in certain things it can do by Georgia law. One of the things that Georgia law prohibits is for any business with active or pending legal action against it, such as the kind that Kramer has launched, to dissolve. Dragon*Con cannot, by the laws that govern that state, dissolve at all; let alone with the sole intent of cutting Kramer out.
But, of course, Nancy has an easy answer for that as well. Dragon*Con, she will tell you, makes millions on memberships alone, that kind of money can buy you some mighty good lawyers and Dragon*Con just needs to finally set about finding some. Except Dragon*Con has already found some lawyers. They had to since Kramer started suing them. But even if Nancy feels that their present crop of lawyers aren’t good enough at their job, what does she think that really good lawyers are going to tell Dragon*Con’s owners to do? In all likelihood, they’re not going to tell them to flagrantly violate the law since doing so would only end in Kramer and his lawyers getting a massive payday at the convention’s expense.
And that would be a problem, one would think, for the boycott supporters. The actions they say that they most want to see done, Dragon*Con cutting ties with Kramer no matter the illegality of the method, would actually be counterproductive to the goal they claim that they’re striving for with the boycott of cutting off the funds that they say Kramer receives from Dragon*Con and uses to avoid trial.
And, of course, Nancy has an equally mindless answer to this whenever this inconvenient fact is placed before her. She just points out that Kramer is up to his ears in creditors and unpaid lawyer fees and that any huge settlement wouldn’t last long enough to do Kramer any good. This is rather stupid for two reasons. First, it ignores the damage that this would do to Dragon*Con. Second, it pretty much contradicts the primary talking point behind the boycott.
The supposed point of the boycott is to cut off Kramer from the approximately $150,000 dividend (a number that is somewhat in dispute at this time) that she states that Kramer receives annually from his shares. This figure, which would be pre-tax and pre-living expenses by the way, supposedly gives Kramer the ability to afford lawyers of amazing legal ingenuity and allows him to swan about enjoying his life. But then she says that a high seven figure payout would be gone faster than a puddle on a hot summer’s day due to the creditor debts and unpaid legal expenses he has.
But at this point, many have stopped expecting coherent arguments from her or points that aren’t contradictory of other points she presents.
And then there’s Don Murphy. Don Murphy is a producer in Hollywood who has had his name attached to things like Shoot ‘Em Up and the Transformers film franchise. Don Murphy is also infamous for acting like a ranting idiot and cyber-bully on the internet over the years. Don Murphy has decided to become the Hollywood face of the call for a Dragon*Con boycott. Unfortunately, he won’t keep it to just interview blips in Hollywood trade websites and has decided to approach this with the same mentality that he has used on the web for years now.
Murphy has taken to the web and decided that his job is to harass people that don’t agree with him. Through his official Facebook profile for example, Murphy took his ranting and insults to the Dragon*Con Group page and proceeded to attack anyone who disagreed with him. In between throwing around accusations of everyone who disagrees with him wanting to provide pedophiles with victims, Murphy took to sending harassing PMs to some of the board members where he felt the need to insult their personal appearance. He also felt it his duty to report the profiles of various cosplayers in the forum on bogus Facebook TOS charges because their character names weren’t real names. When not doing that, he followed some off of Facebook to personal blogs and did things like filing nuisance DMCA Takedown Notices to harass those who disagreed with him. That was something that happened here on this blog and with one claim of ownership made against a picture of a Facebook popup window containing no image of Don Murphy or of anything that Don Murphy has the legal right to claim as his.
There are already people speculating as to why Murphy has jumped on this with such glee. Some speculate that Murphy, himself accused of inappropriate activities involving underage boys in the past and a past vocal supporter of Roman Polanski’s fleeing justice, is reacting much like the former smoker who zealously crusades against the vices of smoking. Most feel the answer is far simpler than that though. Most feel that it’s as simple as this allows Murphy to do what he seems to most enjoy doing. He can scream, he can yell, he can bully those he thinks he can get away with bullying and, a bonus for him that he can’t find on his usual forum stupidity, he can shine his ego with the publicity around his supposedly fighting pedophilia.
But my major objections to this boycott are not (only) based on the two major faces of it being an almost fanatical, blind crusader and a somewhat hypocritical asshole. No, my objections to this boycott are based on the simple concepts that it’s stupid and a waste of energy and effort as well as being pointed at the wrong target.
For one thing, boycotts are, by their nature, designed to get someone or something who is acting in a manner that the boycott supporters don’t like to change their actions to one that the boycott supporters see as acceptable. The people running Dragon*Con right now have been doing everything that they legally can. They’re trying to do the right thing. Boycotting Dragon*Con right now is like disliking a particularly toxic talk show host and then boycotting the radio station because they carry him after they’ve already announced that they’re releasing him. The other Dragon*Con owners want to have this albatross removed from around their necks. They’re not out there happily supplying Ed Kramer with tons of support and pouring millions into defending him.
Boycotting Dragon*Con to try and get at Kramer is stupid; it’s beyond foolish at this point. And it won’t really hurt Kramer in the least or speed up the process of his going to trial at this point. All it does is go after and hurt the people connected to Dragon*Con who have been trying to distance Dragon*Con from Kramer and the pro-Kramer people around it. All it does it hurt the people connected to Dragon*Con who didn’t do the vile garbage that Kramer is accused of. All it does is hurt the people who look forward to attending Dragon*Con and love the convention and what they feel the convention has given them. All it does is hurt the people that own and work for the business in downtown Atlanta that look forward to Dragon*Con coming to town and are helped each year by the huge increase in revenue and tips that come with it in what have been economic hard times.
But Kramer? No. From everything I’ve seen of the case via publicly accessible legal documents and their local news coverage; Nancy could get her wish and Dragon*Con could be destroyed and in ruins by the end of 2013 with Kramer now cut off from even a single penny of profit from it and Kramer could still put off a trial for easily another five or six years with the aid of a semi-competent public defender since every other part of the equation will still be the same.
And there, with Kramer likely being able to play games like this with an appointed public defender, lies my problem with were this is directed as well.
Maybe the problem, despite Nancy’s claims with her boycott push, hasn’t been the lawyers that Kramer can hire, but rather the seemingly incompetent criminal justice system in the Gwinnett area. I’ve dealt with people on various forms of house arrest in both my personal and professional life over the years. Do you know what they do in areas with a competent criminal justice system and courts? They actually check up on you randomly, nice little surprise visits, especially when you’re a known problem child, to make sure that you’re actually at home like you’re supposed to be. Do you know what else they do? They actually check ahead of time to verify that the number you’re suppose to call in from on a daily or weekly basis is in fact a land line attached to the residence and not a cell phone. And why do they take these steps? Gee, maybe to make sure that the person on house arrest can’t go swanning about the country for weeks at a time while fooling you into thinking that they’re sitting at home like Kramer did.
People from a competent system don’t get search warrants written so poorly and so broadly that they’re ruled unconstitutional by both state and federal standards. They also don’t seize in a raid with that warrant evidence and declare to the press that the evidence is around 200 videos of a pornographic nature, some including questionable acts between men and boys, and publicly push that narrative for almost two years before not actually entering the tapes as evidence because the tapes are not in fact pornographic and include such steamy stuff as The Blues Brothers and Gladiator. Do you know why you don’t do this if you’re part of a competent system? Because you’ve just handed even the dimmest defense team the ability to cite this and other acts and claim that the jury pool has deliberately been fed false information to create a bias and place into the minds of prospective jury members the idea that the evidence of the prosecution is actually stronger than it really is and create a delay by moving that the prospective jury pool now be ruled to be tainted and invalid.
Do you only want to pretend that you’re actually doing something? Feel free to keep going after Dragon*Con. Do you only want to pretend that you actually care about the victims? Feel free to keep going after Dragon*Con. Do you want to actually do something useful? Leave Dragon*Con alone and focus your efforts on shining a spotlight on the legal system and the court that has acted so stupidly and allowed this to drag out for going on 13 years now. If Collins, her longtime supporters and new to the boycott screamers like the ever obnoxious Don Murphy actually gave a damn about the victims or seeing Kramer actually see a trial before he dies; they might actually be using this attempt at getting social media and other forces behind the boycott to instead shine a spotlight somewhere useful. Because maybe if the legal system down there had felt that it was getting more scrutiny, if they felt like the eyes of a nation were watching them and waiting for them to get their act together, this might not have dragged out for so long. And maybe if an active movement makes them feel like they’re being watched a little more closely now, they will finally get their act fully together and not let this go on for another 13 years.
But if you just want to feel like you’re doing something without actually doing anything? Feel free to follow Nancy in her damned fool crusade.
Do you want to actually do something? Again, focus a light on the legal system. Focus a light on the trial. Put them under scrutiny and let them know that they’re being watched. Maybe then we’ll actually see Kramer in trial and facing a verdict before another 12 years goes by. And that’s a movement that I’m sure Dragon*Con supporters would get behind in large numbers. But Nancy, being the ever blind crusader, would rather ignore this fact and raise a troop when she could be raising an army.
As for the three obvious questions that might be asked that have what should be very obvious answers –
At this point I certainly believe that Edward Kramer is guilty. I do not support this idiotic boycott. My family and I will be attending Dragon*Con this year.
Links to news sites, blogs and other websites documenting the history of this case so far can be found on the blog’s link page made specifically for this issue. That page can be found by clicking the link at the top of the blog or by clicking this link – https://jjchandler.wordpress.com/the-dragoncon-boycott-link-madness-page/