Crowdfunding Platform Admits to Banning ‘All ComicsGate Associates’

 

“The general perception of ComicsGate is problematic for us, and that’s where we’ll have to leave it.”

 

“So, anyone that associates with ComicsGate is not going to be allowed on Crowdfundr, am I hearing you properly?”

 

“You are.”

And that was Crowdfundr’s final decision at the conclusion of two virtual meetings between myself and David Barach, the President of ConnectionPoint Systems, which oversees multiple crowdfunding platforms including Crowdfundr, Fundrazr, and CoCoPay. Crowdfundr bills itself as “creator friendly,” but with the abrupt and unjust suspension of my crowdfunding campaign for Mike Baron’s Private American, we certainly did not feel we were dealing with a “creator friendly” platform.

 

Shannon Belliveau, Vice President of Campaign & Client Success of the Crowdfundr Support Team informed us via email on December 21, 2022 that our campaign, which they had previously reviewed and approved prior to launch, was suddenly “not aligned with community standards…” specifically for ” the support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.”

 

 

Shannon and the Crowdfundr staff repeatedly ignored my immediate requests for appeal. And it is worth nothing that this was Crowdfundr’s ToS “Code of Ethics” at that time as of December 21, 2022

 

More on that later.

 

Upon realizing we were not going to get any further responses from Crowdfundr, we accepted the suspension and continued to promote the book on other platforms, until one of my friends, Pops Van Zant of the Madness Comic Network, informed me that the president of the company may not have been aware of our suspension and was open to discussing it with me. Pops is a big supporter of Mike Baron, and had confronted David Barach on social media regarding the surprise suspension of Baron’s campaign. Pops convinced me to reach out to Barach, which I did via Twitter DMs on February 13, providing him with screenshots of the series of unanswered email pleas to his VP. David responded and sent a calendar invite to me so we could “talk this over”.

 

We scheduled a Zoom meeting for February 22, and during the discussion he seemed conciliatory and reasonable, listening to my explanations as to why the suspension was without cause and how this entire situation seemed to have been sparked by a defamatory article in the Daily Kos which had prompted an email campaign to his company to get us shut down. During that meeting he acknowledged that it was the article that brought the campaign to his attention and acknowledged that the far-left website had indeed published lies about Baron and his books, but David’s central concern was Mike’s association with “ComicsGate,” a group he was largely unfamiliar with, but had read a disparaging Wikipedia entry about. He asked if I could persuade Mike Baron to disavow the group and then maybe his board would potentially be open to letting our campaign back on the platform. I told him that was very unlikely, but I would mention his suggestion to Mike. Most of that initial meeting can be watched here. In the spirit of public interest, I have embedded our meetings. below.

 

Initial Meeting with Crowdfundr's President David Barach | February 2023

 

By the end of that initial meeting, I felt things had  ended on good terms with a promise from David to take the context and additional information I provided to the board and see what he could do about removing the suspension. We scheduled a follow-up meeting for March 2, 2023. That meeting was also recorded. In a nutshell, David admits that despite still not knowing much about ComicsGate, and conceding that Mike was not promoting ComicsGate on his campaign, he and his Crowdfundr team decided ComicsGate is not “inclusive” and “tolerant,” and so Crowdfundr would not include or tolerate them, or ANYONE associated with ComicsGate, on their platforms.

 

Here he is in his own words. He shares his decision within the first minute of the meeting.

 

Crowdfundr President Bans All Comicsgate Campaigns

 

Sometime after their December suspension of Mike Baron’s campaign, Crowdfundr stealthily altered their “Code of Ethics” to add a line (highlighted below) under their Respect, Tolerance, and Responsible Behavior heading which appears to provide them a reason to justify their decision to cancel our campaign. This retroactively applied guideline was not a part of their Code of Ethics on December 21, the day they suspended Mike Baron’s campaign.

 

 

David and his staff at Crowdfundr must have been too busy to get past all the progressive smears about ComicsGate, and determined that it’s a movement that’s “not fully inclusive“. But if they had bothered to do more than a Wikipedia search, and maybe dug deeper, they would have learned that there are in fact minority, gay, straight, transgender, conservative, liberal, handicapped, Christian, atheist, young, old, male, female, and even gender fluid creators that are heavily involved in ComicsGate, so it can be argued that ComicsGate IS “fully inclusive.” But being focused on merit rather than politically correct identities, ComicsGate doesn’t promote their “diversity” and “inclusion.” They let a creator’s work speak for itself.

 

For those that still don’t know the history or purpose of ComicsGate, Cyberfrog creator and veteran of DC Comics Ethan Van Sciver summarizes below how it began, and his involvement.

 

Ethan Van Sciver Explains Why Comicsgate Exists (SJWs & Cancel Culture)

 

Despite being the biggest voice in the movement, Van Sciver insists he is not its leader, just its loudest advocate.

 

WHO IS THE LEADER OF COMICSGATE?

 

It’s worth mentioning that Barach also recently launched a platform called CoCoPay, a healthcare payment solution that allows users to crowdfund their healthcare costs and apply it directly to the healthcare provider. Sounds like a worthy endeavor, except according to David’s comments, anyone who associates with ComicsGate won’t be allowed to use that service either. So much for “healthcare for all.”

 

Barach repeatedly advocates for inclusion, diversity, and tolerance, he instead seems to be running his company under the doctrines of exclusion, homogeneity, and bigotry.

 

 

 

In response to the above video being leaked and going viral, David responded to a Twitter thread I was in, along with Ethan Van Sciver, and supporters of David, who saw the release of video from the virtual business meeting as an ethics issue on my part.

 

 

Questioning the ethics of all this may be an argument worth having, but should not overshadow the admission from this company that they are discriminating against indie creators merely for their association with people they don’t think are worthy. Those concerned with legal issues should belay those concerns since both Canada, and the state of Tennessee are considered Single Party Consent states, meaning that only one party in a discussion needs to consent to the recording. And as for releasing the videos to the public, even the ACLU has said “privacy concerns give way when balanced against the interest in publishing matters of public importance,” and the Supreme Court has backed that up

 

Michael Bancroft and the team from DarkGift Comics (which includes a transwoman), along with the gang of Billy Tucci’s PopXp stream, had the following comments about the news which I will share below.

 

Crowdundr EXCLUDES Comicsgate in the Name of Inclusivity!

THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH BILLY TUCCI AND RENIE STRYCHALSKI!

 

 

The ramifications of Crowdfundr’s declaration that anyone who associates with ComicsGate is forbidden from his platforms technically means that even Superman actor Dean Cain isn’t allowed on Crowdfundr, along with Asian artist Jae Lee (he did a variant cover for Ethan Van Sciver’s Cyberfrog), or Gabe Eltaeb, who formerly worked at DC Comics, and who regularly appears on ComicsGate Kings. It also means the female creators like Irene Strychalski, Mandy Summers, and Anna Mello, or transgender writer Elizabeth Skochil are also not allowed. What other artists, letterers, colorists, inkers, campaign managers, and so on down the line are also banned from Crowdfundr? And how many degrees of separation will be required to avoid being banned? And exactly who at ConnectionPoint is doing the vetting of all of these creators and their associations?

 

Anyhow, at least campaigns like Rachel Merrill’s “Boy Butts” is still available on the site.

 

Let’s face it, Crowdfundr needs ComicsGate more than ComicsGate needs Crowdfundr. It’s the most passionate movement in comics since Image Comics first hit the scene back in the 90’s, and the group’s most recognized creators regularly raise six-figures or more on their campaigns. This issue is about principles, which Marvel Comics veteran Shane Davis deftly pointed out this weekend.

 

In America, the First Amendment protects of free speech, assembly and the right to petition which logically extends to include a “freedom” to associate with others who have similar political, religious or cultural beliefs. Maybe things are much different in Canada. And perhaps David Barach’s virtue signal will help his company attract ESG funds, progressives, and like-minded woke creators to Crowdfundr, but unless Mr. Barach publicly apologizes and reverses this decision, I expect ComicsGate will completely avoid his platforms, along with any other platforms that ban creators strictly for who they associate with. 

 

And looking on the bright side, creators like Shane Davis and Eric D. July have already built their own platforms, and a new one that we’re hopeful about at the moment is FundMyComic.com. Check it out when you can, and share any other crowdfunding platforms you know about that aren’t discriminating against creators.

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Chris Braly

I'm one opinionated, based geek. I try to steer this tiny ship and can often be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several fellow "comic book nerds." Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly. My preferred adjectives are brilliant/beautiful.

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