Before Good and Evil

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Victimized and victimizer.

If you’ve spent a semester in a high school or university theater department, if you’ve stage-managed a church production of Oklahoma!, if you’ve acted at the Roundabout or pushed a costume rack at the Guthrie, you know the charged emotional dynamic of a theater. The real reason parents tell their daughters not to go on the stage is that actors like drama, and a theater is a great place to find it. So it is no revelation that cultish theater companies and acting studios lurk among our communities. The revelation is how little we’re willing to do about it.

A widely-circulated new Reader article focuses on a series of abuses at one Chicago company. The article quotes a damning amount of testimony that a monstrous impresario, leading man and acting teacher has serially exploited his casts and crews over two decades, sexually and professionally and both at once, sometimes assaulting them physically. He is presented as a predatory menace, and if the case against him is sound, he should be shunned at least. The list of his offenses does not seem to include much that’s criminally actionable at this date. Still, such exposure is the duty of journalism, and to this extent the article is well found. Anybody working at that theater, after this week, can be said to have received fair warning.

The Reader article rightly highlights the uncertainty of artists’ lives, the open, searching nature of actors, and how easy it is to take advantage of anyone looking for approval. It’s good to mention every once in a while that running a theater has never hurt a creep’s chances of getting laid. For many young people, the initial draw of theater is the creation of family. Faith and trust make soft targets. Given the keys to the razzle-dazzle, any charmer with a storefront can capture the affections of vulnerable boys and girls. The Reader is right to remind us that not all our bosses will be good ones.

The theater in question has long had such a bad reputation that its number was literally on bathroom walls; actors are quoted in the article as saying they were warned away by toilet graffiti around town. And yet people kept taking jobs there, and they kept getting exploited – and, according to critics, making some good theater. Quality is mostly incidental to the story, but a bunch of actors putting up a play is a very different scenario from a bunch of engineers designing an aqueduct. Vulnerability is at the heart of an actor’s work, and must be defended and kept safe by all who would preserve the art. That defense begins with the artist, and every actor must choose for herself. Lily Tomlin, no shrinking violet, has for years been asked to comment on screaming matches and working conditions on a David O. Russell film set. Tomlin has consistently responded that artists tend to have artistic temperaments, and that imperfect conditions go with the territory of collaborative art.

Buried in several thousand words from traumatized actors and technicians, the Reader article alludes to a code of conduct currently under development for non-Equity theaters. This voluntary code, with no apparent enforcement body, is a function of a support group for professionals who’ve suffered from bad theater practices. It’s a boiler-plate mirroring basic workplace codes across all industries in America. Anyone who’s worked at a Taco Bell will tell you that Federal and State regulations can be miles apart from standard practice, and so will anyone who’s worked at a theater. The voiceless should have a voice, even if they’re just talking to themselves, as seems likely in this case. So again, the Reader is right to report on it.

What’s wrong is the existence of a flourishing support-group culture, without a correlative culture supporting wisdom and care in personal and professional choices. Every sympathy should be extended to those harmed by this man, and every due consequence should fall against him. But is exposing him enough? Is a meme with one predator’s face at a time the most efficient or effective way to ensure a safer society? Or is it just satisfying, and convenient, to pillory one monster for a crime that belongs to all of us?

Surely the Chicago Svengali’s theater will be a difficult place to get away with sexual harrassment, for a while. But codes and laws against his behavior were very much in place when he brutalized and seduced his casts, and when he ran humiliating and vindictive rehearsals until four in the morning, sometimes for weeks without a day off. He is not accused of anything as clearly criminal as a rape, and those he has physically attacked – all of those quoted in the Reader article speak of events years old – have not brought criminal charges against him. And so he walks among us, and his victims circulate paperwork.

My editor here at Bitter Lemons has as of this writing prompted a remarkable number of comments telling him he’s stupid and evil and dangerous for saying essentially this on the subject: If you can make a code against a person talking you into doing what harms you, you should adhere to a code against being talked into it.

Admittedly, that’s a wiggly line for interpretive artists like actors and dancers, singers and musicians, performers whose job description includes following the instructions of a trusted leader. It’s not always easy to know when you’re being mistreated, and personal relationships are vital to every career. The real work of yellow journalism and toothless, unwieldy codes is that (I hope) they raise awareness that we are all of us responsible for our choices, including those that hurt others and those that hurt ourselves. Otherwise, we can’t claim to have done due diligence. It’s too bad my boss was vilified for making the point, albeit bluntly and without finesse. That he was singled out for insensitivity and not for civic-mindedness is telling.

Where the Reader article strays from good journalism is in its willingness to print what amounts to gossip in its (likely justifiable) character assassination of the impresario in question. Most of the complaints in the Reader are about his professional relationships, but many are not. Many concern his conduct outside the theater, amounting to his being a manipulative, selfish prick of a boyfriend. He supposedly once yelled at a woman he was dating that her bad acting gave him wrinkles, causing him to get Botox injections. That’s a hell of a story, but is that what makes the papers these days?

The Reader was unsatisfied with the good case it had built against its subject, so it went further. The ex-girlfriend who says he gave her a concussion in his vestibule can’t or won’t bring the justice system into the matter. It really isn’t to anyone’s benefit for a newspaper to report on it anyway, when the laws most likely to be tested are those covering libel. The misadventures of two people, after they go home together from the show they’re both working on, are not news. I could tell you stories; you could tell me some. That’s just talking out of school. 

One difference between gossip and news is a code of conduct similar to the one police too often flout, an agreement not to judge but to present the facts; to decide what to print and what probably doesn’t fit. The Reader had papers to sell, and it justly sold them, but it went too far when it used a good, useful story as an excuse to take a self-righteous posture. Bitter Lemons has sometimes been accused, correctly, of similarly overstepping a nebulous line. So it goes. The Chicago impresario will suffer, probably rightly, for having his sins published. The Reader will get more readers, not least because of its sensationalist storytelling.

And tomorrow, in Chicago, in New York, in Los Angeles, another girl will sign up for acting lessons from another man who will tell her what she wants to hear. He will seduce her and take her money to boot, and it’ll go south from there. And when you hear about it you’ll hate him and feel sorry for her, which is correct as far as it goes, which isn’t far enough. We deserve better than pity when we make mistakes. We deserve to be treated as if we have any agency of our own. We deserve the credit of being told that when we see the writing on the wall, we should go ahead and read it. 

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recent Stage and Cinema reviews:

Bakersfield Mist at the Olney Theatre Center

Weiner in limited release

Comments (23)

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Colin’s hot take was so needlessly callous and obtuse, it blew my fucking mind. I couldn’t even comment on it, and I didn’t have to, people from New York to Santa Monica were letting him know how mean and idiotic his opinion is. I don’t understand how someone who claims to have been a counselor for abused teens could think the conditions of power differential and abuse of trust could suddenly disappear at age 18, and not apply to other vulnerable people, especially young actors in the presence of a local phenom director. You, at least, acknowledge that dynamic.

But I can’t really see what you’re doing in this article except to frost the central point of Colin’s shitcake of an opinion. As best I can guess it is:

1) They were adults, so following the code and avoiding abuse is at least partially their responsibility.

Of course that’s a fact of life, but it’s beside the point of the Reader article. Every woman in that story blamed themselves for being dumb and weak enough to have been injured, physically and emotionally, by that man. But the point is that he makes it a career, and that he’s enabled by the institutions and individuals around him and lauded for it. So yeah, shaming one guy is the solution, in this case. We don’t tut-tut every jury for convicting only one murderer at a time.

2) the Reader should not report on abuse that happens outside of the theater because it’s not their business.

This idea that what happens between boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, is somehow totally opaque and impossible to parse for patterns or culpability when abuse occurs is bullshit. True, one fight can have many causes, outcomes, and accounts of varying veracity. But when you’re examining a pattern of intimidation, sexual exploitation in the workplace, and cult like behavior, it’s absolutely appropriate to investigate its effects when it carries over into private homes. That’s what makes this abuse so dangerous! An unsafe workplace is distressful enough, when your livelihood and reputation depends on submitting to attacks, innuendos, abuse, whatever. But when the workplace is so intimate and the power and the charm of ones boss is so alluring, when coupled with their power (read Monica Lewinsky) then while a young person is responsible for their choices, they are compromised, somewhere between an intoxication and a coerced seduction. Anyone who has taught a college literature course or directed a young ingenue knows the conditions we’re talking about.

Comedy theatres all over LA are getting blasted for this, and firing their top people, including iO and UCB, for good reason. There are men in positions of creative authority using their influence and fame to fuck the girls, and the ones who are either bad guys or let it go to their heads and gaslight and abuse these women are a cancer on the performing arts. Telling a bunch of people who just got used up and thrown away in one mans quest to be the grittiest, realist son of a bitch on stage that they should have been more careful is missing the entire point.

Default user

Thanks for mansplaining Colin’s blog post, Jason!

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David, making lockstep politics the central thesis of all your art is a pretty fair cancer, too. And pretending you’re dumb enough to believe I’m “missing the entire point” is sad in a man in his thirties.

You know that I believe in a golden mean, too. In my fantasy land, we’re all supposed to go to the ball with Cinderella, and if we don’t, if we let oppression stop us, then we are not doing as well as I’d like us to do. Not all choices are equal, and some paths are in fact worse than others. Letting yourself be seduced and abandoned is one thing – we all do that. That’s growing up. Letting it destroy you such that 20 years later you’re still trying to get your shit together? That’s all the way to tragedy, and while it’s sometimes unavoidable, it’s always regrettable.

I don’t think we should tell each other that living a tragedy is just something that happened to us, if it isn’t: if it was preventable. Guys like the Chicago shitheel are, as late as the 21st Century, an entirely preventable tragedy in the life of a woman, a theater company, a community.

We are not all of us strong enough to be our ideal selves; I’m not; but we should help each other toward that end, not toward giving up and falling off the beanstalk. Given a choice, it’s morally wrong to be weak – bad for self, bad for society. It’s a deadly sin to counsel another, as you would, that weakness is just one of many possible paths, right for some, not for others.

If we tell our sons and daughters that speaking up 20 years later is heroic, and for these people it surely is better than remaining forever silent, imagine how cool our kids would be if we told them not to take any shit right now, today? Do we really disagree that one is worse, the other better?

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But that’s exactly what people are saying. They were afraid to speak up because of the institutional and reputational consequences of crossing a Chicago theatre darling. There’s no real comment in the article about how hard the women involved tried to pick themselves up or move on, no doubt plenty were able to do so right away. The ones who couldn’t had little option at the time to fight back – for fear of losing an opportunity or being branded as difficult through their entire careers, a very real fear as this man seems very retributive – also lost the most, and in many cases, had their hearts and careers broken at the same time, if not also their jaws. The entire purpose of the article and the movement they’re engendering is to encourage people to speak up, to hold the enabler accountable, and to be heroic in the moment, and not wait for articles like this to come out to stop abuse form happening. So I guess you’re on board with that? I know I am. I just don’t know how the Reader got it wrong, necessarily, since it’s all pointing toward that goal.

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Look, of fucking course the problem here is that not enough white cis-men in positions of power told these women that they had their backs. I mean, that’s one part of the problem. Another part is that not enough black queers and Asian transwomen were in positions of power to effectively have their backs. Because we none of us have managed to fashion a society without consequence.

It will always cost us to speak truth to power. Otherwise there is no truth and power doesn’t mean shit. And in 100 years, when some progressives have actual power, they’ll find out how it feels to be the bad guy.

How the Reader got it wrong is by extending the character assassination beyond the bounds of “I’m fucking my student” to “I’m fucking my student and co-worker and girlfriend who is presupposed by possession of a driver license to be a person who made a choice.” Not even that, as much as printing a bunch of nasty asides having nothing to do with this guy’s work that any of us can do anything about. It’s the sort of moral compromise I tease you for when you say your pacifism makes exemptions for fascists, or people who like Barney over Mr Snuffleupagus. The article doesn’t know when it’s made its point, because it doesn’t know what that point is. It ought to be, as you say, an alarm and rallying cry. It ought not be, as it is, also a referendum on being a shitty boyfriend.

I don’t think every nasty thing every girlfriend has ever said to me in anger should be published to their shame, because I of all people know that it’s easy to say stupid shit. And so as funny as some of them are, and as jolly a fellow as I can be, I don’t publish them. And I hope to God nobody quotes most of what you’ve said in your worst moments. I do not, in this, compare either of us to the Chicago Svengali. I compare him to humans and I say what’s fair for me is fair for him.

The Reader also got wrong that you don’t make potentially criminal charges in print without a case ready to go to trial. The Reader and the accusers quoted in the article seem more likely to face a libel suit from the asshole than the asshole is to face criminal charges. And that, in a fair society, is as it should be. The Reader fumbled an important ball.

I don’t fear that you and I disagree fundamentally issue-per-issue, because I know that we do not. I fear though that you really do want to live in a society where it’s okay for everybody you don’t like to be treated with less than fairness because they’ve transgressed beyond your favorite pale.

Default user

I disagree with you, but thank you for raising your points in a respectful way. Colin came off as nothing but a misunderstanding, ignorant, cis-white ass hole. Why would anyone listen to what he has to say if he’s making his points so abrasively? It was poor writing. Truly.

I see what you’re saying. The article was LONG. There were details in there that were unnecessary and this made it seem gossipy at times, but the message behind the article was good, and it was important that this man be vilified. Emotional and physical abuse and manipulation like the kind that he engaged in is absolutely unacceptable. He needed to be made an example of. Should people have spoken up sooner and louder? Of course, but when you are the victim of abuse like that it is NOT easy to see what the best course of action is. These women were incredibly brave in taking the steps that they did, and in the end the desired result has occurred. Thanks to the article and these women, Darrell Cox will NEVER work in theatre again, thousands of artists are now more aware of the proper steps to take in the future, and light has been shed on a broad subject that needed much more attention.

Was the Reader article heavy handed? Yes. But The contents were tragic and shocking, and to feel anything other than empathy is kind of messed up in my opinion. Though like I said, I do appreciate you writing about this in a way that isn’t completely inflammatory and deliberately upsetting like Colin. YOU actually succeeded in getting your message across, unlike Colin. That ass hole.

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I’m always wary of the railroad tactic of social justice journalism except in cases where facts are clearly established, as they seem to be in this case, and through my personal knowledge of certain people involved. Not sure what the basis for libel would be, considering the accounts are all well sourced. When you shit where you eat the health inspector is going to know what you had for breakfast. Or something. Point is, acting teachers fucking their students is a tradition dating back to Thespis but when it crosses into abuse or violation of professional ethics it becomes newsworthy. But I get your argument against the Reader now, and I know we agree on the central points at hand, not that it matters, since this blog is headed to the firing squad for the hottest diarrhea of a take since ‘the chickens are coming home to roost.’

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What you’re implying, Kevin, is that since you told me you can tolerate my essay, I should be cool with you calling my friend an asshole, and in the process misspelling the word twice.

Default user

Nope! Actually I’m just calling your friend an asshole. And then separately I’m saying I can tolerate your essay. You don’t have to be cool with any of it. Just like I’m not cool with your asshole friend.

Default user

So, you’re deleting comments? Shame on you. I will not return.

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Deleting comments? We don’t do that. We like the company.

Default user

One additional turd on top of the shit-mountain of ignorance displayed in your pseudo-intellectual embarrassment above is that no lawyer with an ounce of either ethics or conscience would bring a libel suit for Cox. Truth is an affirmative defense to libel. I’m not even microscopically surprised that a “journalist” such as you doesn’t know that.

Default user

Way to make it worse with this fucking idiotic piece of writing. Literally victim-shaming in the TEASER on the front page. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

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When a criminal offense is alleged and no criminal charge brought, truth is no longer a defense to defamation. You’ll need a better lawyer.

Default user

Further idiocy, Jason. A) the criminal situation you describe above is only sometimes true; and B) more to the point, almost none of the allegations were actually illegal, so your point is irrelevant. Would that the rest of your comments were merely irrelevant instead of supportive of a dystopian worldview.

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“only sometimes”
“almost”
I’d love to see you on the other side of a courtroom.

Default user

I shall look forward to the opportunity.

Default user

Hello Jason, David and Colin. I see things have gotten out of hand around here. PLEASE, refrain from the foul language. There are impressionable readers out there, like my son, who can read this. I would hate if he picked up on it and the misogyny spread by Bitter Lemon’s associates.

Default user

Hey Jason, my reading of this (based on your own words) is that you and Colin are dismissive and a little contemptuous of something that the wider theater community is passionate about at the moment – abuse in the workplace. Our revulsion at your attitudes is perceived by you as censorship and an assault on free speech. I see it more as a parting of the ways, as many of us just don’t want to deal with people who blame victims anymore. Like Colin and you.

You both push the hyper-masculine line, with a volcanic rage simmering and ready to erupt – take personal responsibility, be assertive, confront people in power, say “fuck” a lot (sorry Michael’s Mom), beat people over the head with your words and intelligence, show contempt for weakness and victimhood. While you know intellectually the intricate psychopathic and sociopathic behaviours that people in power use to abuse others (and that some in theater are master manipulators) you seem to think people are fools for falling for it and are dismissive of the consequences.

Anyone who has been abused recognised the tone of Colin’s article, and shuddered with disbelief at lines like, “I’m sorry, but if you allow crap like this to happen, then YOU are to blame.” That’s textbook victim shaming that we usually hear either directly from the abuser or their enablers. Such as the Catholic bishops around the world explaining to victims of child abuse that they should take personal responsibility for what happened and asking why didn’t they speak up earlier if they thought it was wrong.

Both of you are so way off base on this issue it has shocked people in theatre communities around the world. If your values about abuse and human relationships are so different from the rest of us then why would we trust anything you write about our creative work?

Default user

I went through something quite similar to many of the women’s experiences at Profile Theatre when I was in my last year at California State University, Long Beach. I officially complained and there are (many) official documents at CSULB about my case.

I was 29, just married, in my Junior year of under grad, and the President of the Honors Society in 1998, (I’m a high school drop-out, that’s why I was so old to be in my Junior year) when a tenured professor – a man who had been the President of Marietta College in Ohio, who had resigned over sexual harassment allegations there; who also worked at the CSU Chancellor’s office, only to also be accused of sexual harassment there; and who was then accepted into the Theatre Dept at CSULB in exchange for favor with the CSULB’s President’s Office to get a downtown theatre built for the Theatre Dept Chair – sexually harassed me, intimidated and humiliated me during his first semester as a professor at CSULB. I was 1 of 3 who came forward that term. I was the only one to use my name on the complaint – and I know of 5 other students, who, were rightly, too afraid to complain.

The reason I’m writing this, is that most people who know me know that I am far more likely to be intimidating than to be intimidated. Which is why I feel it’s important to say: It happens to women like me as much as it happens to women not like me, because it happens to all kinds of women – all the time.

To you ignorant idiot(s) at Bitter Lemons, who are questioning the personal responsibility of the women involved at Profile Theatre: In my case, I did take responsibility. I did stand up. I stood up for myself and the other – much younger- students. I stood up to the man personally and unofficially (only to have him humiliate me for doing so), I stood up officially in writing (only to have that letter used to create an intimidating environment), I stood up in meetings and because I did – the people in power (at best) mishandled my case or (at worst) were vindictive because I stood up – I then had to stand up to the Theatre Department –the Dept Chair and many faculty, the Dean of the School of the Arts, the Provost’s Office and the University as a whole. The situation and circumstances were handled so badly, the Discrimination Complaint Resolutions Officer resigned from the University over my case.

It was like something out of a John Grisham novel. It was so surreal and unfathomable to me; I quite honestly have never fully comprehended it.
And here’s the thing that I really want to get at: I am a bisexual, non-monogamous woman, who is not prude by any standards, I can be as kinky and twisted as can be – and I was sexually harassed, humiliated and intimidated – and that was before any of the shit that happened after I reported this man officially.

I think many believe that sexual predators prey on the weak or the prude. They do not. As a strong and sexually bold woman, who has been raped, attacked, and harrassed in my 48 years on this planet, I rarely identify with victimhood because I’ve never been a victim. I’ve lost some battles (many of them before they even started) but I’ve never given in to anyone else’s definition of who or what I am. I know who I am. That also doesn’t diminish what was done to me.

In the case of this professor – that this was done, that it was a life-long pattern of his, that it was well known by those that hired him, that the protections he was afforded were corrupt, entrenched and systemic, and that I was not only not offered protection, I was purposely put in harm’s way (not just in terms of the harassment but afterwards in terms of retribution when the perpetrator knew I had officially complained), is what most women fear – and having been through it, they are right to fear it. I would do what I did again, but it’s still an ordeal of the kind you can’t imagine if you haven’t been through it – and even warrior women like me get bludgeoned in these battles.

In many ways, what happened to me was so much like a Hollywood movie, I actually didn’t believe some of it. The day the anvil fell on my head, was the day the DOC Officer told me she was resigning. She was resigning because the Dean of the School of the Arts and the Theatre Department Chair had shown my letter of complaint to the professor I had accused. It was a letter I signed because of my position at CSULB, not only was I the President of the Honors Society, I was also a Manager at the CSULB Foundation. I didn’t have power, but I had clout. I had worked there for 8 years at that point, I had won some major scholarships as a student and I knew the President of CSULB, he was writing letters of recommendation for me for my applications to MFA programmes. Showing that man my letter was illegal and violated all my rights – all of them – but once it was done there was nothing I could do.

After the DOC Officer resigned, I was on my own with a year of school left to finish. When the Dept Chair removed me from a show I was working on, that also fulfilled necessary credits for me to graduate (the Chair put this professor in the cast of the show after the DOC Officer mandated that this professor was not allowed in any class or production I was working on – the Dept Chair lied and said the professor was cast before I was – essentially using the protections set up by the University to (almost) keep me from graduating), I went to a lawyer.

The lawyer basically said I could sue CSULB, that I had a great case, but that it would probably take the next 10 to 20 years of my life, cost me more money than I would ever see – if I won – and that I would never get to graduate school. He told me it would cost me my job and my relationship with the University’s President and it would do far more harm to me than I could ever do to the professor. He also made it clear that the University had done far more harm to me than this professor had, which was worse for me because I had so much more to lose than he had.

So I used the situation to get something better than retribution. I gave the Dept Chair a choice. He could let me produce my thesis show in the main University theatre space or I could sue them. In the end, producing Brecht’s Galileo in the main space was a much more positive solution than suing, but these stories don’t usually end this way – because many perpetrators seem to be very good at finding their way to theatre’s like Profile – and most on the receiving end of harassment don’t have the relationships and clout within the institutions where the abuse occurs.

The writers at Bitter Lemons think it’s just a matter of standing up – but it’s not. The people, whom you assume will be in your corner, won’t be. You are out there, on your own with your ass in the wind and it is terrifying. And for standing up, you put everything you’ve built in your life on the line in a way a perp never has to.

So please tell me how this was preventable? Because the professor I stood up to, as far as I know is still teaching there or was at least until 2012.

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Stephanie, you are a heroic citizen. Your actions were correct. No power structure supports whistleblowers, whatever it may claim; Chelsea Manning et al could testify to this, if they were allowed. Justice is traditionally out of reach at least until outcry reaches the proportions of critical mass, and even then it is often withheld. Every woman who has ever filed a sexual assault report knows this, as do those who have chosen not to for that very reason.

As far as my thinking justice is “just a matter of standing up,” I do think so, in the long term. Martin Luther King had to be beaten and jailed and killed but he kept standing up until he could not. Hundreds of thousands died answering Gandhi’s call to get the British out of India. That’s essentially the path the women in the Reader article have taken. They deserve sympathy for their suffering and praise for coming forth, even years after the fact of the crimes against them. I would not deny them that.

I also believe that no struggle against injustice is complete without a program to mandate every citizen’s responsibility in preventing and correcting the abuses inflicted upon them – to do what you did. In this light, the Reader article is a force for good.

It horrifies me that I enjoy freedoms denied to half the population. I am heartbroken that in defending what I see as my friend’s good intentions, I have made the victims of a broken system feel that mine is a voice against them.

Colin felt, and I still feel, a mission to further the conversation. In a larger conversation, now denied us at Bitter Lemons, we could have expanded on the specific points we raised and had a dialogue about going forward. Our dissenting opinions, which might have sparked dialogue, are now evidence against us in a mob court whose only goal is vengeance.

That a couple of thousand-word posts should have addressed the entirety of the intricate complexities, instead of focusing on one element, is a debatable subject. Or, rather, it would be if debate were allowed. It is not, when one of the parties is presumed villainous.

So, Stephanie, here’s how I feel “this” was preventable: more citizens with the courage and diligence you showed in your workplace could have prevented it. If more institutions were flooded with more well-documented complaints, rules would change. They are changing, slowly, first and largely in academia; and there is perfidy, ignorance and bad faith on all sides of the process, but it is happening. It’s happening because of people like you, who found that sacrifice is the path to freedom and made that sacrifice.

I think that a program of courage and fierce integrity, of action and consequence, is preferable to a program that addresses problems after-the-fact. It is too bad that Bitter Lemons couldn’t have expressed this idea in a way that all could approve, but frankly, not many want to hear unpleasant messages no matter the language or tone in which they’re couched.

Default user

There’s a kind of wonderful irony here, Jason, now you and Colin know how it feels to stand up. Not that I condone in anyway what both of you have written, and worse, how both of you think, but I also don’t wish the bludgeoning on either of you; however, this is what happens when you stand up – especially without knowing the full extent of the shit storm you’re standing up for or against. And if those women had stood up too soon, before there was a preponderance of evidence, Cox would have been able to pull the ’I’m just a ‘presumed villain’ card’ – just the way you have. You and Colin aren’t ‘presumed’ villains, your words are villainous. You wrote them, you keep writing them, and you seem to continue to reveal your juvenility about these situations.
The part that you and Colin are missing, is that it’s very easy to sit here now, after the critical mass and after the tipping point and say be fierce, be courageous. But no one knows, when it first happens, what is actually happening. From the outside it looks so easy but when you’re in it, it’s a cluster f***.
You and Colin think this guy is just a guy (maybe just a guy like you guys?). He’s not (and I’m giving you and Colin the benefit of the doubt here, try not to prove me wrong). He’s a predator and it doesn’t matter what a woman does to stand up or stop him, he’s never going to relinquish his power, he’s never going to admit who or what he is and he’s never going to change. In fact, he’s going to paint himself as a misunderstood champion of women rights. He’s going to tell everyone how he loves women and how he’s stood up to bullies and how he’s saved other women from abusers (just wait). And he’s the AD without a board of directors so who’s going to fire him?
And I’m sorry, but you’re ideological ‘yippy’ that change is happening is cocked-eyed bullshit. Not only is it not changing, it’s gotten worse. The rules don’t and won’t change. Colin didn’t take Cox to task in his article, he took the women to task for not standing up to Cox. Same old, same old. (As Ghandi said, be the change you want to see in the world – why not take the asshole who caused the mess to task?)
There is no program of courage or integrity by anyone in power (look at you and Colin with the power of the press) and ALL problems are addressed after the fact. Your message isn’t unpleasant, it’s juvenile. The man who I stood up against almost 20 years ago is still teaching. There are many, well-documented cases against him (you don’t get removed as the President of a College on surmises) and he’s still there.
It’s like those 19 women Isis burned last week. Women can either agree to be sex slaves and accept being fucked all the time and have people like Colin jump all over us when we’re finally in a place and position in the world where we can stand up for ourselves or we can be burned to death by the system for deigning to stand up and say no in the first place. But the one choice is just as grim as the other. And none of you ‘guys’ is doing a damn thing to change any of it, except continuing to blame women for using the survival tactics we’ve had to create in order to survive in this man’s world.

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I beg your pardon.


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