There was a time when I didn’t think our little comic book shop needed to have a Harassment Policy. I was wrong. As a leader in the comics industry it’s up to folks just like us to step up and let our industry know what behavior is socially acceptable, and what is not. Here at the Isotope it is our goal to create an environment where everyone is treated with dignity, courtesy and respect – and I know that people who regularly attend our events, shop at the store, or know any member of our Isotope family even a little can be confident that if they tell us someone is behaving poorly we will ask that ill-mannered person to leave. But what of those people who are at the Isotope for their first time? Our industry is going through some radical changes and the Isotope wants to be part of a positive change for the better. So we’re putting this in writing.
The Isotope will not tolerate harassment of our guests of any kind. This includes unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited physical contact or attention, offensive verbal comments, inappropriate jokes or propositions, stalking, harassing photography or recording, or any other behavior which makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended in regards, but not limited, to their race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, appearance, body type, color, creed, origin or simply who they are.
People who violate this policy will be given an official First Warning by either a member of our staff or any member of our community. This warning may be phrased in an official sounding capacity such as “that is a violation of Isotope’s Harassment Policy” or it may be phrased in a more casual manner such as, but not limited to, “that makes me uncomfortable” or “that is inappropriate” and even “hey not cool, man.” These too are considered an official First Warning. There will be no Second Warning. If the behavior does not change, the offending party will simply be told they need to leave and be politely escorted out.
We realize that even the best of humans are flawed, imperfect beings, and with so many of our visitors coming from different parts of the world and walks of life, that some cultural differences may occur. And different people might have conflicting definitions of what “harassment” is. So everyone here is afforded the chance to correct a social faux pas. But you won’t get two. Those who can’t muster up the decency to respect each other, our community, the Isotope and also themselves just aren’t welcome. Officially.
And because the Isotope is *your* community as well as ours, we deputize each and every one of you to take part in the enforcement of this policy. Which means that your Harassment Policy warning is just as official as mine is. In the event of an uncomfortable or awkward situation we still ask that all parties treat everyone at the Isotope with the kindness and respect they are due as fellow human beings. Even if they are jerks.
Our policy applies to all guests, including featured creators and also ourselves and staff. And even the music we play. Simply, if it’s gotta go, then it’s gotta go. This Harassment Policy is in effect at the Isotope always and forever. We will be adding a link to this post on every special event we announce so that this policy is clear to one and all.
Let’s work together, like Zan and Jayna, to co-activate our Wonder Twin powers for a better world of comics! The Isotope has grown over the years as people and an entity, and we will continue to evolve for the betterment of ourselves, our community and the greater comics industry. So let’s join forces… my fellow comic fans, fellow retailers and industry leaders… for a higher community standard and a greater, more welcoming comics industry for all.
Thank you to all of you for helping us build and better our amazing Isotope community.
UPDATE: I’ve had several folks ask me about this policy and a couple express dismay to hear we “need something like that.” We’ve literally only had to toss out two people in the last eight years for their rude behavior, so you folks can decide if this policy is something we needed or not. But it’s clear to me, given the current state of such things in our changing industry, that we all need to take time out to think about what each of us can do to make the entire world of comics a more welcoming place for everyone. And if the Isotope can make one tiny ripple to help contribute to the tsunami that shifts how we as an industry all treat each other? Then this is a ripple worth making. It is my hope that eventually the whole comics industry agrees such things would be helpful and decides they need to create and/or refine their own official Harassment Policies too.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead (1901-1978)