Addendum to the Redemption Post: A Set of Apologies and Conclusions

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As some of you are aware by now, I wrote a post entitled “On Forgiveness and Redemption (Storify).”  The post contained (obviously) a Storify of a series of tweets I made some time ago.  I received some pushback to this at the time, some of it public and some of it privately.  At the time, I didn’t quite understand the degree to which privilege, power, and so on were involved in the situation (especially my own), which is one of the many reasons I chose not to respond to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and others who felt it important to speak to me about what I had written.  This issue again cropped up yesterday (and this morning) when I became involved in spreading misinformation about a related concern (more on that below).  I am now in a position where I both feel I am not quite able to disentangle my own emotional investment from what is going on, but yet feel compelled to issue a statement, several apologies, and a declaration of future intent.*

All of these posts will be left online unless requested otherwise.  I generally disagree with deleting Tweets or posts solely because I may have been wrong or criticized — except in cases where I have been specifically asked to do so by an individual who feels that the continued existence of such materials does more harm than good (or where keeping them there might have a detrimental effect on my person).  As such, I will leave these things as they are.  If you are someone who has been harmed by something I have written and you would like that thing removed, I will respect your wishes and delete it — emails requesting as much will be kept confidential.

First, some apologies:

  1. I must reiterate my apology to Kari Sperring for my behavior on 4/29/15.  In brief, I spread misinformation about what occurred at a panel at Eastercon because I believed the account to be accurate.  I then proceeded to report that incident to the Eastercon chair.  At the time, I did not know who had made the alleged statement, but it was revealed late last night that the accused was Kari Sperring.  This morning, I came to the conclusion that the incident report was not accurate and that my actions (speaking about banning whoever said it and sending a response to Eastercon’s chair) was inappropriate.  I have apologized to both Eastercon’s chair and Kari for everything I have done.  I should not have assumed the account of the “incident” at Eastercon was wholly accurate, nor should I, as someone who did not attend Eastercon, have reported the “incident” to Eastercon.  Hearsay is insufficient grounds for doing either of these things.  I also should not have stated that anyone should be banned from a convention I did not attend and who had not even had a chance to respond to an allegation.  I assumed, and I leaped.  For all of this, I apologize.

    That I know I should not have done these things does not absolve me of guilt for doing so.  My actions have caused someone harm, and it was clear that my intent was to do so from the start, albeit of a professional sort.  That harm, however, extended beyond the professional to unintended personal harms on the part of Kari (which I won’t discuss because that is not my place).  For that, I also apologize.

  2. I must apologize to those who felt my previous post on redemption diminished or devalued the real pain many still feel as a result of past interactions with Requires Hate.  Though it was not my intention to devalue those experiences, the net affect amounted, I suspect, to the same, and that is not something I want my words to produce for anyone.  I apologize for doing so and for opening or throwing salt in any wounds.  I should have understood that even given time, many people still have legitimate pain that may not ever go away, and that writing even from my own experience the value of redemption and its necessity for this community could only worsen those feelings.  I cannot speak for everyone, and I should not try.  In essence, I think my comments have done more harm than good.  For that, I also apologize.
  3. I must apologize that it has taken me so long to issue a response.  I realize that this may have given the impression that I was either walking away or not interested, but I assure you that I stepped back and took so much time because some people both public and private spoke candidly with me about what I wrote and impressed upon me, perhaps unintentionally, the importance of not leaping in again.  That I then leaped indicates that they were right from the start.  It would be wrong of me to send off another stream of tweets when I am certain that doing so would not come from a position of near-objectivity.  It would also be unfair for me to do so when so many people expressed their concerns to me personally under the assumption that I would actually listen.  Their assumptions were correct, and so I must come to this response with respect for them, as they gave their respect to me.

Lastly, a few thank yous:

  • Thank you to every single person who has called me out, publicly or privately, for my various failures over the years, but especially now.  That so many of you have felt comfortable enough telling me why I was wrong is a complement I suspect you didn’t intend to give.  I often feel that I don’t deserve the respect that so many of you have offered, and yet you continue to offer it.  Thank you for that vote of confidence, even as I flounder and shove my foot far down my own throat.
  • Thank you also to those who have pointed out to me that my privilege extends beyond the nature of my birth, that indeed what I say in public can have an affect on many people by dint of my being a figure of some authority in this community.  It is something I have struggled to understand because I too often think that I am not important enough to have that kind of impact, but it is clear that I was mistaken.  I suspect most people don’t like being told they are privileged, and that may have been the subconscious reasoning for my refusal to accept it, but I am glad that it has been pointed out to me so I can make better use of that privilege for, well, good things.
Having written everything I have written here, I have come to the conclusion that I need to do a few things.  
First, I need to back away from the conversation.  I am no less prone to kneejerk reactions and instinctual leaps than anyone else, and my connection to many different conversations within sf/f and my own emotional investments have led me to a range of bad decisions, responses, and opinions.  It is clear to me that I need to do my best to “detox,” to remove the impulses that lead me to accept things that confirm what I already believe and reject what I don’t already believe (specifically, to the issues found in this post).  I also need to do a better job of understanding myself, my privilege(s), and the ways in which I mobilize these things towards intended or unintended goals.
Second, it is clear to me that so much of what I have been writing and discussing in the past month or more has been overtly negative.  It seems to me that this is a terrible use of my time and a contributor to the problems noted in the previous paragraph.  It is also clear to me that I should be doing more to positively contribute to the sf/f community.  Running a podcast isn’t enough.  How I conduct myself online also matters.  And my conduct online has been, at times, poor.
I hope that people who have come to know me over the past few years will still feel inclined to tell me when I have crossed a line.  This is very much a learning process, and I am thankful that I have earned enough goodwill in this community to warrant respectful disagreements and criticism from so many.  My intention is to do better.  To be better.  I can’t promise I will always succeed, but I can promise that I will try.
*One of the other reasons I did not respond at the time was the fact that I came down with a chest cold that lasted for two weeks, and from which I am still recovering.  This coupled with my emotional investments (if you read the Storify, that will make sense) led me to believe that it would be wrong of me to leap into response without reconsidering my own position in relation to what others had said.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

One thought on “Addendum to the Redemption Post: A Set of Apologies and Conclusions

  1. It's a fine thing to apologize for falsely accusing someone, but there's something very sad about apologizing for a call for forgiveness. A community that cannot forgive is a community that should not survive.

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