The Dragon*Con Boycott Part 3 – Apparently We’re Supposed to Punish People for Being Decent Human Beings

Posted: March 9, 2013 in Dragon*Con, Entertainment, Life, News

DragonCon
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But first – For the friends that will start seeing so many posts on this subject appearing and suggest that I not spend as much time on this as it appears that I am; this is actually a time saving measure. Rather than retype the same argument in multiple threads and forums, I’m simply doing it once here. It creates a nice permanent record that can be found by various search engines and, more importantly, it allows me a source to simple copy and paste from or, when links are involved, to use one link to cite the multiple sources I might have in the posts when the forum in question spam filters anything with more than one link. Plus, I may have a use for these posts and the facts cited in them later and it’s a hell of a lot easier to track the arguments and the links back to my own blog.

And now, our regularly scheduled blog shall begin.

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Reference links can be found here – https://jjchandler.wordpress.com/the-dragoncon-boycott-link-madness-page/

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There’s an argument being brought up by the various boycott supporters out there that really has me scratching my head. When the legs are knocked out from under the various “facts” they present via real facts with linked and documented sources, they tend to devolve into two fairly sizable camps.

One camp just hurls insults and stupidity and claims that anyone who doesn’t support their boycott supports a pedophile or pedophilia in general. That is, to be blunt, complete and utter horseshit and a sign to all that the person who has had to lower to this level of discourse probably knows that he/she has lost the debate and has nothing left but metaphorically flinging their poo at the passersby. The other camp is somewhat more curious. The argument that they present is that the people currently running Dragon*Con are “liars” and people who have “lied” and that they’re dishonest because they “changed their story” over the years.

The fact that they present to support this charge is an interesting one. They point out that, early on in this long ordeal, (1) Ed Kramer’s friends and close associates defended the man and even held charity auctions to raise money for the man’s legal defense fund when all of this started and then (2) stated later that they were working to distance the convention from Kramer.

We’ll address #1 first. They held auctions to raise legal funds and supported the man when this all first started.

Yeah, no shit, Sherlocks.

Just the fact that anyone would present that as an argument to show that the people running Dragon*Con have lied, changed their stories, acted inappropriately or are in fact bad people is absolutely mind boggling to me. It also makes me wonder just what kind of sad, wretched people they are and what kind of sad, wretched people they surround themselves with that they seem to be unable to grasp the concept that people who were longtime friends and associates of Ed Kramer may have in fact thought him innocent early on and acted for a time in accordance with that belief.

Edward Kramer was arrested and charged on August 25, 2000. This is being discussed now in the early months of 2013. We have almost 13 full years of hindsight and perspective on the case and on Kramer’s actions since the arrest. Given that no one connected to Kramer or Dragon*Con has yet created a working time machine, it’s safe to say that no one had that level of hindsight and perspective on August 26, 2000.

Of course people defended him.

The fortunate, and occasionally unfortunate, truth about human beings is that we trust the people close to us and sometimes refuse to believe the worst about them until we absolutely have to. Most people actually tend to look down on other people if they’re the type to turn on a friend during hard times or on a moment’s notice at only the first breath of an accusation or charge; and rightly so in many cases. Decent people don’t do that. But it appears that the boycott supporters want to punish the people that Ed Kramer surrounded himself with because they committed the high crime of being decent people who made the mistake of putting their trust and faith in a longtime friend and associate.

And they apparently, in the eyes of the boycott supporters, committed the unforgivable sin of defending and helping a longtime friend and associate who they believed at the time to be innocent.

We’ll recap the events a bit here.

In the following two years, and not even two full years, Gwinnett County’s legal system gave anyone who knew the man reason to question the charges, the strength of the evidence, the safety of anyone held in their jails and the motives of one of his most vocal public accusers.

Again, Kramer was arrested and charged on August 25, 2000. By January of 2002, the following events had all taken place.

The source for the original arrest itself was fully revealed to be an anonymous phone call.

Kramer’s home was raided and the authorities made statements about items seized in the course of the search that friends and associates who had been in his home found to be unbelievable. More on that later.

Kramer and his lawyers petitioned the courts to allow him to be held on house arrest in order to better deal with the longstanding health issues that he had and claimed that the jail’s medical staff were not properly treating or allowing him to treat. He was placed on house arrest with the condition that he have no contact with minors. Less than a week later he was returned to jail on the charges that a neighbor had contacted authorities to report that a young teenage boy who starred in Kramer’s film The Terror of Tate Manor was seen entering his home one evening. A 35 year old female marine testified that she was in fact the visitor that evening and her testimony was backed by the man who dropped her off; an MP. Further, the child in question and his mother testified that he was nowhere near Kramer’s home on the evening in question. Despite this, Kramer’s house arrest was ended and he was placed back in the jails.

In short order, Kramer had his head slammed into a wall in the jail by a guard in full riot gear. Reports vary as to whether this caused neurological damage or aggravated preexisting damage, but what is not in dispute is that spinal surgery was ultimately required from it or that he suffered an injury to his head that created golf ball sized swelling.

Nancy A. Collins and her then husband, both longtime friends of Kramer as well as professional associates, went on a public crusade against Kramer. Collins would make public accusations about associates of Kramer’s, such as SP Somtow, which she would then have to publicly retract. She and her husband would also begin to hand out handmade fliers that were seen by some, rightly or wrongly, as borderline anti-Semitic in nature. By January of 2002, Creative Loafing in Atlanta writer Scott Henry (no relation to Pat) would describe her in the article ‘The Wizard of Dragon*Con Stands Trial’ in the following terms.

“Collins attributes her fanaticism over Kramer to a sense of personal betrayal — she says he often asked to take her young stepson on caving trips — but it seems somewhat more complicated than that. Part of her zeal possibly stems from the guilty sting of having spent years feeling beholden to a fickle benefactor who has now been charged with a crime.

As any zealot might, she views every new detail about Kramer through the lens of her own convictions.”

Nancy is also quoted with this line.

“Ed’s a master manipulator,” she says, “and we’re gonna make him regret ever sliming his way into our lives.”

(Note – Before anyone claims anti-Collins bias by the writer or the source, boycott supporters themselves reference articles by both that writer and that source that don’t have negative comments about Nancy as credible and knowledgeable on the matter and Nancy herself promotes and links to Scott Henry’s most recent ‘In the Shadows’ article published in Atlanta Magazine and now found on their website.)

This view of her was not helped when it became public knowledge in the first year of Kramer’s arrest that Collins was attempting to get a deal to write a book based on the events. This act was seen by some as a vulgar attempt to cash in on, depending on where you stood on the matter of Kramer’s guilt or innocence, the suffering of the alleged victims or the ruination of a wrongly accused man. As a result of such actions and statements, her motives and her honesty were being questioned by many and pointed to as proof of the questionable motivations to be found in many of Kramer’s most public and high profile critics.

The courts themselves were under investigation for alleged improprieties or irregularities and a ruling against them in January of 2002 postponed Kramer’s January trial date and everyone else’s as well. All jury trials in Gwinnett County were halted for more than two months because the jury pool was ruled invalid.

The jails had issues as well. They were facing charges from people other than Kramer and his legal team that they were not providing proper medical care to inmates. They were also facing harsh criticism and investigation due to the death of an inmate.

And there were other reports of abuse. According to filed affidavits, inmates were prodded with stun guns while strapped into chairs and even sprayed with pepper gas while strapped down. One man was reportedly sprayed with a water hose while strapped down, pushed into a cold cell and left to dry.

And, again, this is all just the first 13 to 14 months of this case. Within the next six months, evidence that was collected shortly after Kramer’s arrest and given much public attention by the investigators and the prosecution turned out to be hot air.

One such example was the, reported at the time of seizure, over 200 pornographic movies taken from Kramer’s home that included scenes of a questionable nature with underage children. Judge Debra Turner threw out the evidence. The videos were mainstream features that you could get at your local store and included such titles as Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator and The Blues Brothers.

Photos hyped by investigators and the prosecution as questionable and involving young boys in a state of undress turned out to be casting and early pre-production shots taken for a then in development Gary Busey film, Little Savages, described conceptually as Lord of the Flies in space, that Kramer had a hand in.

The Georgia Court of Appeals would also find that the warrant served by Gwinnett County Police for the search itself was constitutionally inadequate, open-ended, and in violation of both the Georgia and US Constitutions.

Two years out, friends who were able to visit Kramer in jail reported that his uniform often had blood on it and that his skin was ulcerated from not being allowed to have his chronic psoriasis properly treated.

By August 7, 2003, the Associated Press had reported that PHS, the medical provider for the GCDC, had more than 1,000 lawsuits pending against it. The natures of many of the charges in the majority of the cases were identical to the complaints made by Kramer and his legal team. Adding even more fuel to the fire, it was around this time period that the Sheriff’s Department was investigated for falsifying arrest records and overtime reports.

Things were then delayed again in 2003 when the DA’s office requested a delay to seek new evidence and file more charges.

And all of this and more is in just from the first three years.

Let’s pretend that this isn’t Kramer for a minute. Seriously, how would you react if this was happening right now to someone you knew, a good friend, a family member or a longtime coworker, and you trusted and believed in the innocence of that person? What would you do if you had questions about their guilt and then the local media coverage and the information coming out about their case was filled with these things?

You would do what the people who knew Ed Kramer, people like Anne McCaffrey and Harlan Ellison, did in that situation. You would try to help.

So, yes, there were people who spoke out on his behalf. And, yes, there were people that questioned the rather demented seeming nature of some of his critics and the fanatical zeal that they showed as they set about attacking him; made to look all the worse to many by the fact that this person and her husband had had a ten year relationship with Kramer where he helped their careers, helped them gain more exposure, got them jobs when they needed them and even lent them money when they were facing hard times.

And, yes, they worked to help raise funds to cover his legal costs.

Auctions were held through the TrekTrak at Dragon Con to benefit the Ed Kramer Legal Defense Fund as part of its programming. Auctioneers have included Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch, author Brad Linaweaver, Dragon Con’s Matters of the Force Director Cathy Bowden and TrekTrak Director Eric L. Watts. Items were donated by local businesses that were related to the genre fields as well as by various vendors at the con when those auctions were held. These auctions raised thousands of dollars for Ed’s ongoing legal expenses, but even then they were not covering everything.

So more help and more auctions were being requested and planned.

And I’m not sure how anyone can say that this was a bad thing or that the people that did it were vile or evil. Again, we’re talking about the first three years of the case and when news and talk of abuses and fraud around the case and the jails was very prevalent, the investigators and prosecution were guilty of hyping evidence in the public square that was in no way, shape or form what they put into the public mind and the two major delays in the case were from an investigation into the courts themselves and from the prosecution’s own request.

And, maybe more important than anything else, Kramer was merely accused and not convicted. There’s a very important difference there. An accusation does not automatically mean guilt. An accusation is not a fact. Hey, just ask the 2006 Duke University Lacrosse Team about that. Hell, for that matter you can ask the men who have been convicted of rape or murder and after years of wasted life in jail they’re cleared of the crime by DNA evidence.

Or you can ask me.

I know someone who was years ago accused of rape. There were a number of us who didn’t believe the charges. After a year of hell, my friend was cleared when the accuser admitted that she made it up. He certainly found out who his friends were that year.

We had a case in our local news where some students at an elementary school accused a teacher of engaging in inappropriate activities with them. It dragged out for a while before it was proven that the charges were false.

And, yeah, I’ve had a least a couple of people I trusted over the years end up proving that they weren’t worthy of that trust. It happens. You don’t believe the worst of someone you know well and trust if you have no reason to and many had no reason not to believe that Ed Kramer was innocent.

And even the rumors that got played up by some after the fact as far more prevalent than still others said they really were don’t play into it. People talk and the more they dislike you the more they talk. If all talk and rumors were true, even persistent talk and rumors, I’d be gay, a friend of mine would have been jailed long ago now for being a druggy, Obama really would be an Kenyan born stealth Muslim who has carelessly worn a ring with Muslim inscriptions on it since college and who was stripped of his law license VS just surrendering it when venturing into his political career and the Bush Administration would really have been behind 9/11.

My wife can tell you I’m anything but gay, my friend is clean (just goofy as hell by nature), he ain’t, hasn’t and wasn’t and they weren’t.

And, again, most of you, even the boycott pushers, should know this. Because, again, if it were a friend of yours who was accused and you thought they were innocent, you would defend them just as Kramer’s friends defended him.

But we’re supposed to punish the people who run Dragon*Con now because they defended the man when they had doubt about the charges? We’re supposed to crucify them now because they placed their faith and trust in a man that didn’t deserve it?

Tell me how you think people should act in a case like this then. Go ahead and tell me that you would throw someone under the bus at the first breath of an accusation or the first official charge. Tell me that the first response to something like that happening to a friend you trusted and believed in would be to drop them like a hot rock and then launch a public campaign of attacks against them.

Tell me that and I’ll tell you that you’re pathetic excuses for human beings and that I’m glad that none of you are anywhere near me or my circle of friends.

This brings us to #2. They stated later that they were working to distance the convention from Kramer.

That’s not a lie or them changing their story because they did do that.

At the very beginning of this, just as a matter of protocol, Kramer stepped down from running the convention and Pat Henry took over for him. That was a smart move and one originally made to be a temporary measure pending the trial’s outcome and the then presumed innocence of Kramer.

But they did more than that later on.

By the time the serious idiocies in Gwinnett County’s legal system were winding down, Kramer began to play games himself and initiate actions to delay the trial he claimed he wanted so as to clear his name. And some of his games throughout 2004 started to become more obvious to even his defenders and began to wear on them. By early 2005, some in fandom actually started talk of boycotting Dragon*Con over the Kramer issue. Why? Because Dragon*Con nixed some auction activities in the prior year and had made clear that no auctions would be held at or in connection to Dragon*Con in 2005. That’s right, the boycott talk in 2005 was from the pro-Kramer side because Dragon*Con and the people in charge were pulling back their public support.

Kramer himself and his actions were now causing the trust and faith that some placed in his innocence to be questioned and reconsidered. And the people that ran Dragon*Con began to take further steps to minimize and distance themselves from Kramer.

And what was done is quite well documented by now. Pat Henry bought out a good chunk of Kramer’s shares from him. Kramer refused to sell all of his shares though. At that point the various games of trying to leverage him out began. That eventually lead to Kramer launching legal action and at that point pretty much any support from Dragon*Con went out the window.

And over the years his most vocal defenders have quieted down as well. Why? Because the man has been making it more and more clear with each passing year that he’s been playing games and that he’s guilty.

The sad truth is that anyone who was conned by Kramer into believing him worthy of their trust and faith is a victim of both Kramer’s and the ability of human nature to sometimes let us be decent, loyal and trusting human beings.

Again, I ask you to put yourself in that position. At some time or another in your life you must have had someone you trusted prove unworthy of that trust after you defended them. Tell me something, are you a liar and dishonest because you defended the person against accusations of something serious until they showed that they weren’t worthy of that trust and then, only after that trust was broken, you made it clear that you could not defend them any more and distanced yourself from them?

Tell me this as well; what kind of complete and total jackass would you think someone was if they called you a liar and dishonest, claimed that you had dishonestly changed your story over time and wanted you punished because of that? What kind of single digit IQ, drooling imbecile would you thank they were if they also said that you were somehow guilty of aiding the person with what they did because you defended someone who ultimately wasn’t worthy of that defense?

Well, that’s who you’re being if you subscribe to this argument. And that’s who you are if you take this stand as your stand.

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