John Scalzi tells the story of a panel at the latest Penguicon, where he was scheduled to present, on the subject of “Warfare in Science Fiction.” In a particularly silly display of political correctness, or squeamishness, or something, the hotel management decided that they couldn’t tolerate a discussion of warfare in the lobby area where the panel was supposed to take place.

I love the solution they came up with (at Dave Klecha’s suggestion)!

When the panel started, I as the moderator noted to the audience that the hotel was uncomfortable with us discussing warfare in an open area, so we were going to discuss tea parties instead — you know, as in those famous science fiction books The Forever Tea Party, and Starship Tea Drinkers, or my own novel, Old Man’s Tea Party. And thus, “war” became “tea party,” soldiers were “tea drinkers,” boot camp was “tea training,” firing on another soldier was “serving tea,” and clearly you wanted to serve tea before tea was served to you. If you were served tea, you didn’t die, you “went to the lavatory.” And off we went, and had a sustantive discussion of the subject, both among the panelists and with the audience.

It sounds brilliant. I only wish I could have been there! Tobias Buckell kindly made the audio file available, though.