Spot on with the 'geek' observation. A few year ago I was at a con where the topic of discussion at a panel became rather sexual - then everyone realised that the (barely) teenaged daughter of a well-known community member was in the room. Silence fell. The girl piped up: 'It's okay. Sex talk doesn't phase me. My parents are Gamers.' :)
Funny as the anecdote may be, this is a prime example of the issue of adults having to modify speech and behavior because there are kids around. Those in the room should have been able to continue the discussion without having to worry that they were traumatizing somebody's kid.
But then this should follow to all places; cafes, buses, shopping malls, dozens of places where kids are present regularly, and yet Joe Public carries on regardless. personally I have no expectation with how anyone wants to talk around my kid and an extension of my responsibility that if I am uncomfortable with it I will leave. I see it as just another part of my parenting responsibility to teach them about what they are hearing and when it is appropriate to use such language, etc. Which, by the way, I don't think it is acceptable to use some language or talk about certain crass topics in public at all, ever. That offends me. So can we ban people who swear too?
The majority of those are public places. There is an expectation on both sides of the equation that there will be both adults and children present. While the majority hold to that expectation and modify their behaviour appropriately, some people violate it. That's where you, as a parent - and in some instances our legal system - come into play.
The con is a private space, and it is also a space that has the expectation that it is predominately, if not exclusively, adult - as evidenced by the nature of the conversation being had at that panel. In this way it's more akin to a bar or a nightclub: you wouldn't expect to have to modify your speech about an adult topic in one of these locales because children were present.
And as for banning people who swear? We do not have the right not to be offended.
Are we assuming that all adults would and should be comfortable with graphic sex talk at a panel, if it wasn't advertised as being about such?
We are not. That, however, comes back to the idea of not having a right to not be offended (though this is different from vilification), and the concept of adult space. As an adult entering an adult space, you accept that there is a risk that you may come across something you find offensive or inappropriate (but not illegal). You have options for dealing with that, including challenging the material, making people aware of your discomfort, ignoring it and leaving. But your mere presence doesn’t automatically preclude the discussion taking place, or the material being produced.
The presence of a child, however, in many circumstances does. Before the discussion and procede, as a responsible member of society you must ascertain the child's maturity level and/or how their parents feel about them being involved. When you can't do those things, or the child is not mature enough to handle it or the parents dissaprove, you can't have the discussion. If you do continue to have it regardless, you risk some seriously negative repercussions.
We have different expectations for speech when there are children present as opposed to adults. I could hold a conversation with my friends that's exremely sexually explicit. If you overhear it, you might get offended. If I held that same conversation with my friend's teenage son and you overheard it, you might call the police.
All those things you mention about needing checking when children are around are things that I would assume someone on a panel would do even if the room was full of adults, unless the panel was advertised as 'X' rated or somesuch.
I think I see a con as much more of a public space than you do - anyone who pays their money can take part.
Anyway, we've probably typed ourselves out by now. Tanks for the discussion and I hope you feel able to come to a Swancon in the future if you think you might like to. It's be nice to chat in person.
There are levels and degrees. I seized on this as an example given as a good one in that it was something that arose naturally that was not intended to be part of the discussion. It was only when it was realised that there was a child present did the audience have any issues with the direction the conversation was going. There was a collective "oh fark, we should have been watching what we were saying 'lest we corrupt the youth" moment.
But, well, I'll leave it there too.
As for attendence, oh, I'll probably go to swancons in future. I'm really only not going this year because there doesn't seem to be anything about it that interests me. The panels are 'meh' and the guests don't appeal and I'm soon to have a big-ass mortgage that means I can't justify spending hundreds of dollars to sit in the gaming room all weekend.
I look forward to talking with you in person at some point. I even promise I won't eat your daughter alive - at least not without a lot of BBQ sauce ;)
I have an Aussicon membership form in front of me that states children 6-16 years $50, children under 6 free (must be accompanied by a paying adult.) I would say there is a pretty fair expectation by the convention organisers that children will be present, and that it is a pretty standard form of many cons. I think it is also an expectation of most con organisers that children may very well attend in some capacity, whether or not their specific con has children's rates, or children's programming. It *is* quite common to see some individual panels marked as adult content, and fair enough, but I can't think of a single SF convention that has been entirely adults only, and I have attended (and been on the committee for) many.
The question of whether con space is private or public is debatable and has come up before, but isn't worth getting into now.
My comment about people swearing was a touch facetious, but only to demonstrate a point. i find that there are a vocal minority who seem so offended by the presence of children that they think they should be banned from as many places as possible. It also seems to be some of these people who presume (incorrectly) that conventions are adults only spaces. What they wish and what actually is aren't necessarily the same thing. Now, not many things offend me, but gratuitous swearing is one of them. I cannot however, control the behaviour of other people beyond perhaps asking them to clean up their language if I feel brave enough (and even though the law would technically supposedly favour me in a public place, who is really going to go there?) I can only control what *I* do, and if I'm uncomfortable or don't want myself or my child to be exposed to X,Y or Z then I have the prerogative to remove myself from the situation. I cannot hold the expectation that everyone who swears should be banned from an event I'm attending. I expect that most people *do* swear at some time, but maybe they can keep the really choice stuff for at home. The same way that I let my child do things at home that I will not let him do in public out of consideration for other people. My child should not be banned from a con by mere fact of being child. If, and only if I did not show proper courtesy to other patrons then might I expect the con organiser may have reason to talk with me or ask me to remove my child.