The evidence is pretty clear that a goodly portion of Fandom was not happy with the selection of a Worldcon being held in China – some not happy before the event, some not happy now.
That it was held is now history, and history that we hope will not be repeating itself. WSFS should not repeat this same mistake of hosting a Worldcon in a country that does not reflect and support Fannish values of inclusion, diversity, openness and acceptance.
It is a failure of logic to believe that the hosting of a Worldcon in a repressive country will have any influence on that country’s values, short or long-term. It is a failure of logic to believe that the presence of a Worldcon in a repressive country will expose that Country’s Fans to Fannish values in any way that they can safely express. The host country can benefit. Fandom does not.
Since, however, the WSFS Constitution does not incorporate rules or guidelines for vetting host countries in advance of a bid, it falls upon that portion of Fandom that votes in Site Selection to do the vetting personally.
Each of us has different political values, different personal concerns. But all of us are Fans and I would like to believe that since we are all Fans, we greatly share those values as they relate to human expression.
So what then should we be looking for in a host country? There’s a fairly long list:
First, the host country should be one in which its citizens have an active voice in the governance of that country. This would include both representative democracies and constitutional monarchies.
Second, all citizens of a country should share the same rights, equally.
Third, a host country should operate under a system of codified laws that are equally applied to all citizens. Countries that have codified arbitrary or selective enforcement (principally along political lines) should be avoided.
Fourth, Human Rights and Freedom of Expression should be highly valued. A progressive approach towards an increase in those rights and expressions should be in evidence (rights and freedoms should be expanding over time, not contracting).
Fifth, identities that are or were previously discriminated against should be seeing regular and steady progress in the elimination of that discrimination throughout that society.
Sixth, Personal privacy should be respected. Surveillance may be necessary in some circumstances (public safety for example), but should not be intrusive, and mechanisms for addressing intrusion should be available.
Seventh, governmental involvement/support of Fannish activities (sponsorship/grants) should come with no political strings attached.
Eighth, the ability to travel to and from the host country should not be unnecessarily impeded, except for reasons of health and public safety concerns. (Citizenship, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, political affiliations should not be general criteria for disallowing travel.)
Ninth, Public criticism of the host country, its policies, its government or individuals serving in that government should not be a factor in allowing or disallowing someone to attend.
Tenth, The country should be generally supportive of the arts.
Eleventh, The country should not be actively engaged in the repression of minority groups
Twelfth, The country should not be actively tolerating slavery, the sex trade, wage slavery, indentured servitude, child labor.
Thirteenth, The country should be engaged with and supporting efforts to mitigate climate change
Fourteenth, The country should not be engaged in acts of aggression against other countries
Fifteenth, The country should not be engaged in genocide
I’ll stop there, for now.
The map included below offers some suggestions for countries that would generally be suitable for hosting a Worldcon. It starkly illustrates that China is the one single example of a Worldcon that has not been held in a country that reflects Fannish values.