Dear Wizard World,
It recently came to my attention that due to the online slacktivism of the social justice mobs, you will no longer feature a Chicago man’s replicas of guns from famous games and comics for sale at your convention.
From what I understand, the replica maker Dave Selvaggio of DS Arms went through all the proper channels to gain his spot on the convention floor, and has been planning his display since March. Selvaggio, I’ve learned, is a licensed FFL dealer who was also planning to include safety training along with his fake replicas.
As a lover of all things nerdy, I can’t express how disappointed I am about your decision to cave to the social justice hysterics that has infected our escapism lately. Not just because I feel like this political activism has gained one more foothold in a place it doesn’t belong, but because you have opened a can of worms you will have a very hard time closing.
How About Education Instead of Fear
For one, there is nothing wrong with firearms, and learning firearm safety. While firearms have been used for murder, they have been used so by bad people. The vast majority of gun owners, including gun owners who attend your convention, are not bad people. Painting firearms with a broad brush of negativity brought on by intense media coverage whenever one is used illegally is the height of both ignorance and falsehood. Clearly those who pushed you to take the booth down exhibited both traits.
Selvaggio was quoted saying “Just because people are fans of comic books and sci-fi doesn’t mean they’re not interested in protecting themselves and their family and their belongings.”
He is absolutely correct in this. I can attest that my friends and I, the majority of which enjoy sci-fi movies, video games, and comics, are also gun owners and enthusiasts. By banning this booth you’ve sent the message that guns are not okay, nor is education about and safety with them. You would rather ban learning in favor of fearmongering and misinformation.
Furthermore, the Wizard World weapons policy clearly states it allows convention-goers to carry replica weapons, so long as they’re non-firing. Is this not what Selvaggio was selling? These were nothing more than toy guns no different from the ones carried by cosplayers roaming your convention floor, are they not? Banning Selvaggio’s booth for selling pieces you’ll see everywhere is like telling one wave in an ocean that it can’t come ashore. No matter what, you’re gonna be swimming in it.
The contention here seems to rest on the fact that Selvaggio is a knowledgeable gun owner and dealer, capable of teaching others to be knowledgeable gun owners themselves, but with real weapons. If that was the problem, then perhaps it would have been best to simply tell Selvaggio to keep his training offers to himself, and just sell his replicas. I wouldn’t advise this, because the more knowledge people have, the better—the trigger discipline of some of your attendees is atrocious—but you would have spared Selvaggio the letdown of so much time and energy wasted planning this booth for your convention.
If You Want Fun, Banish the Whiners
Selvaggio clearly had wares he wished to sell, which now he can’t. That’s both time and money out of his pocket. You’re also taking something off the floor that would clearly be popular with your convention-goers. Replica sword and blade booths are all over the place. Are these not weapons as well? Would your attendees not love to see these wares for purchase, as they would any other toy weapon?
Wizard World spokesman Jerry Milani said “We want everyone to have a good time at the show. We want this to be fun.” But I’m failing to see where the fun comes in when you’re caving in to pseudo-moral busybodies who would have you do away with something everyone enjoys in the name of a political standpoint.
I’ve seen some of the tweets that were sent your way when the debacle started, and I have to say that none of these people have “fun” in mind, nor do some seem to understand that there will be toy guns there regardless of the booth’s disappearance.
As you can see by this last tweet sent out by the man who started this protest, Matt Santori-Griffith (@FotoCub) the interest is clearly political, not fun, and herein is where you really stepped in it.
Let Convention-Goers Make Their Own Decisions
You allowed Santori-Griffith and his online mob to dictate what everyone else at the convention can and can’t enjoy. Adults, who should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether they want to purchase from Selvaggio’s booth, or sign up for his safety classes, are now unable to do so because you allowed online outrage brigades to decide that for them.
As a guy who attends conventions like yours from time to time, I’m insulted that you would allow someone who has never met, my friends, or Selvaggio, to that call on our behalf. While I concede it is your decision to pull the booth, you did so at the business end of intimidation by people who do not speak for other convention-goers. It would have been better for you to allow Selvaggio’s booth to remain, and let your attendees decide for themselves whether they should take part in what the booth was offering. Let those who strongly disagree with it stay away, and if they didn’t want to attend the convention due to the booth’s presence, so be it.
But by caving to their demands you not only let them decide for other attendees, you gave them an opening to continue to make demands in the future. As in all things, once you open the door for politically motivated outrage brigades to have their way, they will continue to push for more and more concessions. Soon, they may call for a limit to cosplay accessories like weapons because it promotes violence. Certain characters may not be welcome because they’re too insensitive for one reason or another. Certain speakers won’t be allowed because of their beliefs, and more. Does that sound like fun to you? It certainly doesn’t to anyone outside of the outrage brigades and political busybodies.
Rest assured that this won’t be the last time you see these slacktivists, or the last time you’ll be pressured through online mobs to change your convention. My advice is simple: Don’t cave to them. Your attendees love your convention as-is, and altering it to suit the desires of a minority of social justice extremists will only drive people away.
If possible, reinstate Selvaggio’s booth and allow convention-goers to make their own decisions about whether they’d like to shop there. Allow those who don’t wish to attend to the convention due to this to not attend. They can miss out on the fun, but chances are they’ll show up there anyway.
You have the opportunity to put your foot down and set an example for all other conventions. Demonstrate you won’t be bullied, nor cowed, that you won’t allow your goers to be presided over by people who have never met them. Take this opportunity to tell your customers and attendees that you do want them to have fun, and you won’t let others decide what that is on their behalf.
Please consider this letter carefully. Many of us out here would greatly appreciate it if you did.