On April 16, 2015, Alison Tieman and the Honey Badger Brigade, founded by three women and involving a highly diverse staff of volunteers, creators and lovers of free expression, opened a booth at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. The booth, which bore the group's name, contained a combination of HBB merchandise and editions and merchandise from Alison's Xenospora comic, a 7-year project. Included in the booth was an anti-censorship banner with the gamergate logo on it as a tribute to gamergaters who had donated to our fundraiser to help get us to the expo.
The expo also hosted a feminist panel titled “Women into Comics.” Alison Tieman and Sage Gerard attended, and in response to a question about men’s rights activists, Alison requested, and was given the panel moderator’s permission, to speak. She did so, briefly, in relation to the topic brought up by the panelists.
The full discussion is linked in the lowbar. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymkIiGRvtBg) If you check it out, you can hear that there was no conflict, only a brief exchange of thoughts. A small contingent of feminist supporters, however, later claimed that Alison derailed the conversation.
The next morning, the expo forcibly evicted Alison and the Brigade, despite the group operating well within the rules of the Expo and its policies of conduct. We were not given a chance to dispute the alleged complaints. The organization violated its own stated policy in the process and released conflicting claims regarding its reasons for our removal, defaming us with false accusations of disruptive conduct to rationalize its decision to censor the group’s views. These accusations included some claims published in a Mary Sue article and subsequently promoted by the expo as the reason behind the expulsion. The article, whose writer never contacted Ailson or any of the other badgers for clarification or explanation, presented a clearly satirical joke as a literal statement of fact and included statements even their own commenters questioned, falsely accused the group of deceiving the expo, and also of harassment and disruptive behavior. Those accusations were repeated, and that article cited, by various media sources following the incident.
In response, the Brigade pursued legal action against both Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo and The Mary Sue.
After initially serving notice of legal action to the defendants, we ran across an interesting obstacle; an odd network of legal entities surrounding Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. To complicate matters, upon evicting the group, the Expo had blocked Alison’s access to their contract with her, making it impossible to refer to it to find the correct name.
The suit was originally filed against the federal corporate entity bearing nearly the same name as Calgary expo and founded by the expo’s founder. We received a response stating that we had contacted the wrong person, followed by the argument that if the entity we contacted were the entity responsible for the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo, the Expo staff’s actions were valid. Following notification on behalf of that entity that it was not the expo’s parent company, we re-examined the various companies associated with it, all registered under the same owner’s name, and figured that the correct entity was one with a deceptively non-corporate-sounding name containing the word “committee,” and which was not federally registered, but which was listed on receipts we had for the Honey Badger Booth registration.
Due to the confusion, it was necessary to apply for an order granting leave to amend the civil claim, and a conference call was scheduled to allow the defendants the opportunity to contest the application. Following this short conference call in January 2016, during which one defendant’s representative put the call on hold and played circus music across the line, the plaintiff’s application was approved. The Judge granted broad approval, in fact, also allowing the plaintiff to fix two typographical errors with which the Mary Sue had taken substantial issue.
On June 20, 2016, the Honey Badger Brigade was advised by Calgary Expo International Inc. that it had misled the Alberta Provincial Court by advising a judge at a June 2, 2016 pretrial that Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo Inc. was not the corporate entity the Honey Badger Brigade needed to sue. Subsequently, its lawyer, Elmer Chiu, advised that he did not have “the correct information before him at the pretrial conference” and it was the proper party to sue. In other words, the January conference call was unnecessary.
The defendants tried and failed to get the suit thrown out prior to any hearing, then they took up the initial court date arguing for a summary dismissal, including in their arguments an extended rehashing of their complaints about the typos, and an attempt to blame the plaintiff for the defendant’s deception of the court regarding the name issue. Due to the defendants’ extensive quibbling, the summary dismissal was the only issue the court was able to rule on during the initial one and a half day hearing in January of 2017. In November of 2017, the group returned to court to hear the opposing attorney attempt, yet again, to argue for summary dismissal and attempt to get Alison’s evidence dismissed out of hand. Finally, Alison got the chance to give her testimony. After hearing Alison’s testimony, the defendants began asking to discuss out of court settlements, beginning with threats and cajoling, but eventually begging for a meeting. They initially displayed receptiveness, verbally agreeing to Alison’s terms, but over the next month settlement talks went nowhere and ended with the defendants threatening a frivolous defamation suit.
We contacted the court clerk to request new dates for the continuance of the trial. They have informed us that their earliest available dates are in February 2019. Our legal agent, Harry Kopyto, has sent a politely worded request to the Judge presiding over this matter to select an earlier date.
We are awaiting word from the Court.
This is the Trial update as of February 8th, 2018