I’m looking forward to steering away from the political internals of con committees and talk about more fun fan things like award ceremonies and masquerades (wigs, lycra and capes, oh my).
But I have a bugbear to get out of my system and that’s the public resignation.
I’ve talked previously about the not uncommon occurrence of committee members resigning a few weeks prior to a convention and then enjoying the convention without any responsibility. That’s one thing. But it’s another thing when a committee member resigns publicly often in lieu of informing the committee directly. I can accept that someone can have their reasons and there can be valid reasons for quitting a committee. All too often though the person resigning does it publicly, often via a bulletin board or newsgroup, to avoid a direct confrontation with members of the committee.
Ignoring issues of one accepting personal responsibilities there is always a price paid by the convention when this happens. A public statement of resignation will always be considered to have a reason for being public. That it’s to not face up to committee or the convenor is not one people assume, especially as it does not put the resigned in a complimentary light. It will automatically be seen as a protest and there’s always a reason for a protest. If you are publicly resigning then it will be interpreted as an act you believe is for the good of the members and the specifics of the protest would be pertinent to them.
If you want to make a public protest then so be it, make your protest, give your reasons why and stick it to those you think deserve it. But if you don’t give reasons then it isn’t a protest, it is just trying to hurt the convention. The average member who happens to know of the resignation will see it as an indication something might be wrong with the con because someone is upset enough to denigrate the committee and that’s automatically perceived as tantamount to denigrating the convention. That’s well and good if that’s the purpose you intended to communicate. But a protest over how or who is running the convention means nothing if you then proceed to go to the convention. A protest means making a public sacrifice to draw attention for the cause you’re protesting, like a hunger strike or a boycott. If you don’t make the sacrifice, as is traditionally part of what a protest involves, then you aren’t acting for the good of the convention, just out of your own interests of causing damage or running away or even to avoid sacrifice, in this case being able to have fun at the convention rather than work it for the good of the members.
When the protest is insincere, an act of illusion, it doesn’t take away from the person’s own delusion in the act of publicly resigning. The normal reality is, unless you are the convenor, the body of the convention membership doesn’t particularly care that you were an individual member of the committee in the first place. Indeed, it is quite presumptuous to think anyone would care. It shows a bit of deluded self-importance as if one believed being on a committee gave them a superior place that others respect in the manner of fannish class distinction. Truth is it will be seen simply as an act of spite, unless, of course, you give a very good reason that the public needs to know like an entrenched conspiracy to embezzle funds or accusations of sexual harassment. But if you don’t give a good reason it looks more like you couldn’t cut the mustard rather than acted on principles.
By coming to the con but without any longer having the responsibilities of being part of the committee it means your protest was empty and insincere. You validate your own unimportance to the process of quitting, you reinforce your delusion that you are on a fannish pedestal of some sort and simply justify their original opinion that whoever you were to resign was unimportant and indeed no hindrance to the value of the con. In the end you might as well be someone who quit because you didn’t like the idea of spending half the weekend on the registration table. Indeed, by publicly quitting you let everyone know you might have just done the convention a favour, but not in the way you intended.