Georgia, Voting Laws and Fandom

Comments on the new Georgia Voter Restrictions

By now, everyone should be aware of the new voting rights restrictions that have been voted into law by the GA State Legislature and signed into law by the state’s Governor Kemp.

During his signing speech, Kemp said the following:

“I’ve led the fight to strengthen protections at the ballot box and ensure that every legal voter has their voice heard in our elections.”

On its surface, a laudable intent.  In reality, the truth of what he said lies in the definition – his definition – of “legal voter”.

He also said – “…after the November election last year, I knew like so many of you that significant reforms to our state elections were needed.”

And again, the import of that statement lies with the internal definition of the words used.

Kemp and Republicans are running scared from the same thing that white, right wing politicians and those who have been fooled into supporting them have been running from since at least Obama’s first Presidential win – the loss of the white majority in this country.

It is therefore no huge surprise that they are engaging in exactly the same tactics that they used when their supremacy in this nation was first challenged immediately after the conclusion of the Civil War:  Jim Crow.

Laws and regulations designed to disenfranchise and disempower:  burnings, lynchings and wholescale slaughter when other methods didn’t work.  Constant intimidation, economic attacks, the whole raft of methods were deployed.

That Georgia’s need to protect its voting integrity is based on a lie promulgated by the previous administration is equally disgusting, but not all that surprising in the face of the threats to “their way of life” that is their perception of the political landscape in this country today.

And now, the talk is of boycotting Georgia state and the companies that support its economy have inevitably come to the fore.  (Links for lists of GA-headquartered corporations are provided below.)

Fans have also begun speaking up and their focus is DragonCon, an event that brings a lot of business and attention to the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia every year and a venue that Fans think we may have some influence over.

There are other Fannish-oriented events as well, though not nearly as large as DC has become.

DragonCon, in my experience, has acquired a fair amount of pull at least with the city of Atlanta, if not with the state.  They certainly know people to talk to, and Fans think they ought to.

And at the very least, DragonCon ought to be issuing a formal statement – which one would hope would be one indicating that they are not in support of the new voter suppression laws.

It will admittedly be legally and financially difficult for DragonCon to cancel their event – until such time as these laws are rescinded – but the import of this issue is one that warrants accepting such difficulties.

Some have pointed out long-term contractual limitations that may impact whatever DragonCon may decide to do.  However, the issue(s) are big enough to justify accepting those impacts.  Fans of the convention will support it in future of it makes the right moves.

There may also be “morality clauses” in the convention center and hotel contracts that can be used to mitigate the situation and – DragonCon has several registered trademarks whose value is already being negatively impacted by the current state of affairs.  DragonCon could well use that as a strategy to mitigate the impact of potential legal wranglings.

The bottom line is:  the cost of doing the right thing is the cost of doing the right thing, nothing more and nothing less.

My personal suggestion for the convention would be to cancel the live event once again (vaccinations are not yet widespread enough – plenty of attendees have already voiced concerns that a return to a live event is still too soon) and to host an online version which is conducted from a location that is not in Georgia.

That suggestion of course will be impacted by whatever is actually in the convention’s contracts (and what the showrunners decide to do), information that none of us is privy to.  But the fact remains that fans are already calling for the convention to do “something” and are expecting a response.  DragonCon should not delay too long in offering one.

For the rest of it:  yes, a lot of genre shows are filmed in Georgia, but we’re fortunate in this age of genre glut that many others are not.  With streaming services and time-shifting, you won’t miss much if anything if you decide to boycott shows made in Georgia.

And NO, you don’t have to start drinking Pepsi to avoid Coca-Cola – try some RC instead (unless of course RC Cola is headquartered in Georgia).

And I think the chefs among us can get by without Vidalia onions for a while.

As an official statement:  The Experimenter Publishing Company is four square against these new voting restrictions and in support of individual fans engaging in legal protests against them, including boycotts of Georgia – based businesses, products and services.  The return to Jim Crow can not be allowed to stand.

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