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The SPJA Needs to Change Its Youth Protection Policy


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mgosdin



Joined: 17 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 5:37 am Reply with quote
"He who wants to protect everything, protects nothing." https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adolf_Galland

Mark Gosdin
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fryguy81



Joined: 02 Mar 2016
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 6:08 am Reply with quote
it's just not a government directive if it's not burdensome, costly, and (entirely) ineffective.

I feel bad for Anime Expo. Stuck in a bureaucratic purgatory waiting for a harmful piece of policy to be reassessed.

But this policy on the description alone sounds like a nothing piece of work. How many people who are their to work (in one capacity or another) are the ones even doing these assaults? Probably close to none.

If they're not dealing with the attendees then this policy is entirely aimed in the wrong direction.

sadly LA's con is the one to suffer from it.
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invalidname
Get off my lawn!Get off my lawn!


Joined: 11 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 6:23 am Reply with quote
fryguy81 wrote:
it's just not a government directive if it's not burdensome, costly, and (entirely) ineffective.

I must have missed where this is a "government directive", beyond Christopher's reference to "security theater for the benefit of parents, insurance companies and local government."

If this were some sort of state or local requirement, shouldn't we be hearing of it having a similarly debilitating effect on other large gatherings in the area? (SDCC maybe?)

Agreed with the main point, of course, that background checks are a grievously blunt and clumsy tool for separating the "good" people from the "bad" people. It plays to that fantasy of Perfect Safety, the idea that nothing bad would ever happen if not for negligence, preferably on the part of someone with a lot of money.
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Mr. Oshawott



Joined: 12 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 6:50 am Reply with quote
The way the SPJA's YPP is now, I doubt many would want to visit Anime Expo, let alone the guests. Here's hoping the SPJA will come up with a more rational policy that's protective of kids while respecting the privacy of their guests and normal customers.
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fryguy81



Joined: 02 Mar 2016
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 6:58 am Reply with quote
invalidname wrote:

I must have missed where this is a "government directive", beyond Christopher's reference to "security theater for the benefit of parents, insurance companies and local government."


I guess I should say; government of a type.
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Cutiebunny



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 8:22 am Reply with quote
Quote:
As a result of the above issues (and more), numerous major vendors and exhibitors have threatened to boycott Anime Expo this year or take other serious action.


The key word here is "threatened". Major vendors may have threatened, but most of them have plunked down money for non-refundable booth space (and travel expenses, if applicable). They're not going to boycott AX simply because, on their end, there's just too much money to lose. And despite their disagreement to whatever new policy AX has innacted, many major vendors depend on the funds AX generates for them. Anime and manga vendors aren't going to pull out in any large number because of this policy any more than they were going to pull out of Animazement because of North Carolina's bathroom law. There's just too much money at stake for the vendor to pass up.

The writer of this article acts as if this is going to be the final nail in the AX coffin. No, it won't...or at least, not any more than half the other idiotic things that Anime Expo has instituted in the past. If any convention were "too big to fail", it would be Anime Expo. There's too much industry money, none of which is threatening to pull out of AX, wrapped in to the event. And, if I were a betting bunny, I'd say that certain guests and employees of major industry partners will receive waivers of the cost of the background checks or even a waiver of the checks themselves. Once again, money talks and that's why AX is being as vague about it as possible.
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Lemonchest



Joined: 18 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 8:32 am Reply with quote
I can totally understand why respected manga artists would be offended if asked to do a background check. I mean, can you imagine if Cannes asked Woody Allen or Roman Polanski? Besmirching their names by merely suggesting such things.
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Kadmos1



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 8:51 am Reply with quote
With this issue, I think the arguably 3 of the 5 most challenged US Amemments are being raised: 1st, 4th, and 5th (the others are 2nd and 8th). How you balance this and respect people's rights are hard. Great job for the ANN boss being somewhat politically neutral in this article.
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ikillchicken



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 8:51 am Reply with quote
Not definitively for or against this. Some general thoughts on the points brought up though:

-In regards to cost: I'm glad to hear they aren't expecting most people to cover the cost themselves. Not doing that would be disastrous. I actually don't think asking vendors to pay is the most unreasonable thing though. Vendors ultimately attend cons to sell their wares and make money. You don't want to discourage that but covering the cost of a background check out of their revenue doesn't seem like the end of the world to me. Although I would like to see some allowances made for those who find themselves facing excessive charges because of various factors. I guess it also depends on how often this will be necessary. If this was a yearly thing that might get pricey. As a one time expense though to be able to attend that doesn't exactly strike me as a problem.

-Privacy and security seems like a more valid concern. Probably the most so of any of the points brought up. Making people wear badges with their real names just seems foolish. I don't even know what that will accomplish. The rest I'm a little more conflicted on though. I really wish this article went into more detail on this point. Is it just vendors that have to register or anyone attending in any sort of official capacity? Also, what information is required? It doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to say that if you're going to attend a convention in an official capacity, that they may have some of your info on file. That said, I can see where home addresses are a particular sticking point. Especially if this is info they are just going to keep indefinitely. If nothing else, I'd like to know more about their information handling policy.

-I'm also unsure about the issue with "good" people failing background checks. I mean, it certainly sounds like a problem overall. There are evidently some tweaks that need to be made to the way background checks are performed to weed out these false positives. I'm also unsure though. Saying you shouldn't do background checks because of this seems a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater at least at first glace. It sucks for the people who might have to deal with this and I hope AX is willing to work with people when these issues come up. I'm just not sure this merits refusing to do background checks altogether. I mean, I don't know. The article itself doesn't really go into detail again so it is tough to estimate the scope of the issue here. If the system is so hopelessly broken that it's just wildly unreliable then maybe this is a bad policy.

-I'll say one thing for sure: The idea that a background check is "insulting" is just downright silly. Sorry but it really is. Of all the points made in this article, this is the worst by a mile. At the end of the day it's just a precaution. It is in no way whatsoever a reflection of you as a person. Everyone has to do it and you're simply no exception. Absolutely nobody is saying you're a child molester or even that you're likely to be one in the slightest. If someone is actually insulted by this they need to get over themselves. As someone who used to work as a cashier, I dealt with this shit all the time. "How dare you check my bill to see if its counterfeit!? Are you implying I'm some kind of criminal!?" Come off it. It's not about you and acting like it is is really pretty egotistical.

-Ultimately I'm not sure how effective this policy would/will be. It's not necessarily the best argument to say "This won't protect everyone so they shouldn't do it at all". Certainly it's true though that this is a drop in the bucket. Attendees are the much bigger concern and considering the cost both in dollars and labor of organizing and managing all this, it does seem like there's an argument to be made that resources could be better spent elsewhere on a solution that would do more to address issues with problem attendees as well. Of course, I'm still not exactly sure how you do that. I'm not convinced it's impossible either mind you.

-Gotta be honest, I don't think this is a well written piece. I applaud ANN in principle for tackling this issue and I hope to see more of this sort of thing in the future. The actual execution leaves much to be desired though. The write-up gives virtually no background info on the situation. It doesn't explain what the "SPJA" even is, or what their role is in regards to AX. What's more, there's not even a brief summary of the policy in question. The write-up just sort of jumps immediately into the apparent consequences without actually mentioning what this policy is (even broadly let alone specifically). Also, as to the actual criticisms, it seems like way too much of a shotgun approach. I mean, maybe these are all valid points. Given the short length of this piece though and its commitment to raising all of these disparate concerns, none of them really feel adequately explained or supported. As a reader, I came out of this article feelingly like this is potentially something I should be concerned about. I can't honestly say this article presented a fully compelling reason why though, or for that matter, even gave me enough information about the issue to reach a conclusion on my own. If this is as much of an issue as the article suggests, I really don't think you've given it the kind of detailed and considered response it deserves.
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 9:12 am Reply with quote
ikillchicken wrote:
"How dare you check my bill to see if its counterfeit!? Are you implying I'm some kind of criminal!?" Come off it. It's not about you and acting like it is is really pretty egotistical.
Thing is, no one in Japan would dare check a customer's bill to see if it was counterfeit. To Japanese people (ie: Guests of Honor), this is extremely insulting, and their reaction to it is, "Do they think I'm a child molester?" Remember, in Japan, if the police question you, you are guilty in everyone's eyes. So if you have to undergo a background check, it means that your are a child molester (why else would they do a background check?).

Guess I should have explained the different way that Japanese people see these things. But I wanted to keep extraneous information out of the article.
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ResistNormal



Joined: 06 Dec 2011
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 9:29 am Reply with quote
Security theater will kill cons it only a matter of time. At Anime Boston we already have to get our bags searched, empty our pockets, and go through metal detectors. It's all useless nonsense that completely ineffective.
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crosswithyou



Joined: 15 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 9:32 am Reply with quote
Tempest wrote:
Thing is, no one in Japan would dare check a customer's bill to see if it was counterfeit. To Japanese people (ie: Guests of Honor), this is extremely insulting, and their reaction to it is, "Do they think I'm a child molester?" Remember, in Japan, if the police question you, you are guilty in everyone's eyes. So if you have to undergo a background check, it means that your are a child molester (why else would they do a background check?).

Guess I should have explained the different way that Japanese people see these things. But I wanted to keep extraneous information out of the article.

Pretty much. Not to mention that these people are already taking time out of their busy schedule to make a trip overseas. Forcing them to jump through extra hoops when they are the ones being asked to attend is just silly and a waste of time. It's easier for them to just say, "You know what, it's too much of a hassle so nevermind."

Unless vendors signed a contract when they booked their spaces that they agree to a background check, I don't know how AX can just spring this on them. I mean, wouldn't the contract be different than what was originally agreed upon?

Part of me is curious to see AX crash and burn, to be honest.
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Buzz201



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 9:43 am Reply with quote
ResistNormal wrote:
Security theater will kill cons it only a matter of time. At Anime Boston we already have to get our bags searched, empty our pockets, and go through metal detectors. It's all useless nonsense that completely ineffective.


I'm not sure it's designed to be effective so much as to a) cover their arses and b) make some noise. I'm not sure it's intended to protect children so much as make the SPJA look like it's protecting children.

I completely understand why they're doing it, and it surprises me that it is seemingly unheard of in America. However, it seems to have been implemented in the most thoughtless way possible.



Quote:
Good People will fail the background check: I won't go into too much detail about this here, there is plenty of information online about it, but many people often have significant trouble with background checks. Here are but a few of the reasons you can fail a background check: a name change, a minor violent arrest (got into a fight in a bar back in your college days), visiting an "undesirable" country (have you been to Iran or Cuba? I have), sharing your name with an actual criminal, etc...


In the UK, the equivalent check (a DBS check), will respond with a report as to exactly what the flag on the person is. So that the leader can then use discretion to work out whether it's appropriate for the person to work at the event or not. Is this not the case in the US?

Then again, DBS checks only cover involvements with the Police, so you wouldn't be flagged for a trip to Cuba or anything weird like that.


Last edited by Buzz201 on Mon May 16, 2016 9:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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NottJim



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 9:46 am Reply with quote
ikillchicken nailed it.

Firstly, I'm kind of surprised that they are doing background checks for speakers. I would have thought this would be for people that are interacting with minors in an unsupervised situation (con staff, vendors, artists etc.)

Having said that, I don't buy the whole "we can't ask them, they will be upset and won't come" thing. Japanese people are not stupid, explain the situation, that it's one rule for everyone, no one is being singled out, and I think they will accept it. As foreign nationals they've already accepted the indignity of being body scanned and fingerprinted as they entered the country.

I'm not suggesting that no one will take offence, I just believe that the vast majority, when explain correctly, will accept it.
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HeeroTX



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 9:48 am Reply with quote
ikillchicken wrote:
-In regards to cost:

#1. I'm wondering how AX's contracts are structured and if there's been pushback on that score. Yes, vendors have a lot of money at stake, but they also put forward money with stated policies and expectations spelled out in a contract. And now AX is suddenly saying "you have new responsibilities that YOU must pay for", one can see how that would be an issue for vendors. Especially since many vendors ALSO have booth "assistants" that are either paid low wages or get a "free badge" for working a booth. (or sometimes paid in merchandise) Presumably those people would ALSO need a BG check, and who knows how expensive that gets. Is the show as profitable if an employee that costs you $100 in product now costs you $1000 in fees?
Quote:
-I'll say one thing for sure: The idea that a background check is "insulting" is just downright silly.

It may be "silly", but it WILL cause problems for the convention. Suppose you are a really popular artist/creator/actor/whatever. You have MANY competing demands on your time both professional and personal. Someone is asking you to make some time to meet with your fans. You're not sure, it cuts into both your career (you're very busy) and ANY "free time" you have to rest and recharge. (Anime professionals in Japan often work WELL in excess of 40 hours/week, probably well in excess of 60 hours/week and if they were going to come to the US it's a MINIMUM 10hrs one way on the plane) In the end you're convinced because the convention's representatives make a solid pitch that your fans love your work and you'll get some leisure time as well as an opportunity to raise excitement about your career. You nod your head, yes you will do it. The convention then says "great, now we need you to agree to a background check so that we can confirm that you're not a criminal or some kind of child molester".

#1. You're someone that was not entirely sure about doing this TO BEGIN WITH, and now the people who ASKED you to do this are saying they need to confirm that you're not a bad person? If that was a question, why ask to begin with?
#2. It's just one MORE hassle. Again, as a professional, you need to take vacation time for this event. If you're non-US, you need to spend MANY hours traveling, plus getting visas in order, plus any other arrangements. Each little thing is one MORE reason to say "no", so even though it may seem "silly", adding a "and hey, you'll let us confirm you're not a terrible person" may be enough to tip the scales for some people.

For guests, it raises another question of liability for the con itself. IF a stalker or other bad person were to invade the privacy of a semi-reclusive guest, one would think there would be swift questions as to how "locked down" they keep the information they obtain for this policy. If I have very few people that know where I live and I have a stalker or obsessive fan issue AFTER the convention, I know who my first suspect is.
EDIT:
NottJim wrote:
I'm not suggesting that no one will take offence, I just believe that the vast majority, when explain correctly, will accept it.

The ONLY reason that I think AX would have a snowballs chance of getting away with this with guests is because they ARE the de facto "trade show" for the US and there's COMPANIES that can more strongly encourage their EMPLOYEES to go along with it. If it were any other show (including the other "bigs" like Otakon) then I disagree vehemently. There are plenty of people that would take offense and plenty more that would think it's "not worth the hassle". Heck, how many people in Japan are fighting the "decency" act purely on "principle"?


Last edited by HeeroTX on Mon May 16, 2016 9:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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