Nicholas Brendon shouldn’t be allowed at Lexington Comic Con


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Tiffany Palumbo

When I moved to Lexington six years ago, I was constantly assured how progressive and tolerant the city was. There was a large, active LGBTQ+ community. Small businesses and artists were passionately encouraged. Community action groups like Take Back Cheapside and the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence were sprouting up like wildflowers. And the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention (LCTC) had just celebrated its first year.

In its infancy, most of LCTC’s celebrity guests were niche: former Power Rangers, a few Walking Dead extras. William Shatner, of course. But, as the con grew, so did its guest list— this year’s program includes Billie Piper (Doctor Who), Mike Colter (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones), Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy).

This is a tempting lineup for any pop culture nerd, myself included. But one guest stands out for his life off-screen. Nicholas Brendon, best known for playing Xander Harris on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has a history of domestic violence: In October 2015, Brendon was charged with felony robbery, criminal mischief and obstruction of breathing after he choked a woman, smashed her phone, took her car keys and prevented her from leaving his hotel room. He pled guilty to criminal mischief.

Two years later, he was arrested for felony domestic violence and violating a protective order against his girlfriend. He was allowed to be near her but not threaten, harass, injure or assault her. That’s it. That’s all he wasn’t allowed to do, and he did it anyway. Brendon also has extensive substance abuse and mental health issues, but that is not what’s under scrutiny here.

Thousands of Americans struggle with opiate and alcohol addiction without choking their girlfriend. They check into rehab without having first gone on Dr. Phil to justify their actions. They attend therapy and take medication without violating restraining orders.

Brendon’s addictions are not the issue here; his violence towards women is. And it’s an issue LCTC founder Jerrod Greer is choosing to overlook. On Feb. 24, Greer posted an open letter on LCTC’s Facebook page in response to customer concerns about keeping Brendon on the schedule: “It’s been no secret in the industry that [Brendon] was known to be a handful. I knew that he had substance abuse problems and battles with depression. I was unaware that there were allegations of domestic abuse. If the allegations are/were true, we do not support or condone those actions in any way…To say that ‘Booking him means that we support domestic violence,’ is as ludicrous as it is to say that ‘Eating at McDonald’s means we support obesity or diabetes.’”

While Greer can argue that he is not supporting domestic violence, he is choosing to support a domestic violence perpetrator by keeping Brenden in the lineup. He might not agree with violence, but he’s thought about it and decided that it’s okay, and that’s just as bad. More than one in three women have experienced rape, violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, and women ages 20-24 (a group that makes up about 40 percent of comic con attendees) are at the greatest risk for experiencing partner violence.

By allowing Brendon to attend LCTC, Greer is sending a message to Lexington’s youth that domestic assault is okay— as long as you’re famous. That the safety and protection of women is secondary to Greer’s financial success.

“We are in a situation where I have to decide which group of my customers I would like to upset,” said Greer. “The group who support him and are trying to help see him through recovery, and want BADLY to meet him, or the group who say that no one can be redeemed from his past.”

In other words, Greer would rather risk angering the part of Lexington that refuses to support domestic violence than lose any money a C-grade celebrity could rake in.

I will not be attending LCTC this year— a choice I wish I did not have to make. But if Greer insists on putting financial gain over women’s rights, I cannot support him or his events. The issue is simply too important to ignore.

“I never dreamed that eight years later I would be defending myself as a supporter of domestic violence,” he said. 

And yet, Greer, here you are.