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How should public figures atone for past bad acts?

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Posts

  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    The remorseful and reformed politician must present his shameful past before asking voters to give them the responsibility of enacting the agenda they're selling. Anything less is a selfish pursuit of power at the expense of actually enacting Good Policy and that in itself is disqualifying in my eyes.

    I don't know if it's realistic to expect politicians to start their careers by doing and then releasing all worthwhile opposition research on themselves

    What if we ask?

    Like, next Virginia gubernatorial primary debate, I feel like it would be downright irresponsible not to ask if anybody on stage had ever dressed up in a racist costume. I know why you wouldn't volunteer it, but why wouldn't or shouldn't the public ask?

    There is a huge incentive to lie. I feel like this would end up being a way to filter for the greedier, dishonest candidates.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    Shivahn wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    The remorseful and reformed politician must present his shameful past before asking voters to give them the responsibility of enacting the agenda they're selling. Anything less is a selfish pursuit of power at the expense of actually enacting Good Policy and that in itself is disqualifying in my eyes.

    I don't know if it's realistic to expect politicians to start their careers by doing and then releasing all worthwhile opposition research on themselves

    What if we ask?

    Like, next Virginia gubernatorial primary debate, I feel like it would be downright irresponsible not to ask if anybody on stage had ever dressed up in a racist costume. I know why you wouldn't volunteer it, but why wouldn't or shouldn't the public ask?

    There is a huge incentive to lie. I feel like this would end up being a way to filter for the greedier, dishonest candidates.

    We've been doing such a bang up job of that, after all.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
  • Kid PresentableKid Presentable Registered User regular
    Shivahn wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    The remorseful and reformed politician must present his shameful past before asking voters to give them the responsibility of enacting the agenda they're selling. Anything less is a selfish pursuit of power at the expense of actually enacting Good Policy and that in itself is disqualifying in my eyes.

    I don't know if it's realistic to expect politicians to start their careers by doing and then releasing all worthwhile opposition research on themselves

    What if we ask?

    Like, next Virginia gubernatorial primary debate, I feel like it would be downright irresponsible not to ask if anybody on stage had ever dressed up in a racist costume. I know why you wouldn't volunteer it, but why wouldn't or shouldn't the public ask?

    There is a huge incentive to lie. I feel like this would end up being a way to filter for the greedier, dishonest candidates.

    Admittedly that could lead to Very Bad results, such as, hypothetically, all three of the top government officials in a state party facing scandal and calls to resign at the same time.

  • AridholAridhol Registered User regular
    I don't want to live in a world where you only get to lead after airing all of your private mistakes.

    It is OK for someone to harbour a terrible secret from which they have learned but would be devastating to their current life.
    You can tell someone has learned by the actions they take now and in the future. Do those actions and statements align with yours? great!


    Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    The remorseful and reformed politician must present his shameful past before asking voters to give them the responsibility of enacting the agenda they're selling. Anything less is a selfish pursuit of power at the expense of actually enacting Good Policy and that in itself is disqualifying in my eyes.

    I don't know if it's realistic to expect politicians to start their careers by doing and then releasing all worthwhile opposition research on themselves

    What if we ask?

    Like, next Virginia gubernatorial primary debate, I feel like it would be downright irresponsible not to ask if anybody on stage had ever dressed up in a racist costume. I know why you wouldn't volunteer it, but why wouldn't or shouldn't the public ask?

    Why would you ask that question? Is blackface such a widespread issue that you need to spend time on it? If you already have proof that Candidate X has, in the past, dressed up in a racist costume, why wait until the debates and not instead just release it to the press?

    Like, the whole point of the debates is to expound on your political position, not to act as some sort of a gotcha! moment.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
  • AridholAridhol Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    The remorseful and reformed politician must present his shameful past before asking voters to give them the responsibility of enacting the agenda they're selling. Anything less is a selfish pursuit of power at the expense of actually enacting Good Policy and that in itself is disqualifying in my eyes.

    I don't know if it's realistic to expect politicians to start their careers by doing and then releasing all worthwhile opposition research on themselves

    What if we ask?

    Like, next Virginia gubernatorial primary debate, I feel like it would be downright irresponsible not to ask if anybody on stage had ever dressed up in a racist costume. I know why you wouldn't volunteer it, but why wouldn't or shouldn't the public ask?

    Why would you ask that question? Is blackface such a widespread issue that you need to spend time on it? If you already have proof that Candidate X has, in the past, dressed up in a racist costume, why wait until the debates and not instead just release it to the press?

    Like, the whole point of the debates is to expound on your political position, not to act as some sort of a gotcha! moment.

    It wouldn't just be blackface, it would be "check off where you have made any mistake in your past based on these 300 criteria of the present. Hope you pass!"

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Warren has tried to be open about her mistakes in inaccurately claiming to have significant Native American ancestry, and it’s really not been something that anyone has been taken well. She didn’t handle it well, but apology is a difficult thing to do right.

    AridholSleep
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    As blackface is the current topic in the news, I had a couple of coworkers in the break room grumble about how it's just a costume and they legitimately didn't understand why blackface was a big deal.

    I interrupted the conversation and explained that it was insulting parody used by white entertainers as a way to mimic racist stereotypes in an effort to entertain.

    "Yeah, but that was back then! Why does it matter if someone does it now?"

    I don't have the energy for this nor do I feel like I have the authority to make a claim and speak for anyone so I kind of shrugged it off and told them, "It was racist then, it's still racist... and now people actually know better and do it anyway."

    These are educated middle aged white women who went to nursing school and presumably have bachelors degrees from a college that isn't in the cradle of southern styled racism.

    On that front, I feel like there will always be an aggressively ignorant demographic who "doesn't see what the big deal is". So I think concern is appropriate when there's talk of a community dismissing the harm done to the victim. I'm just not sure where that line is or who's allowed to make the judgement call that a general population doesn't get to weigh in on a specific incident and have more/less say in the outcome.

    People are complicated, this is fascinating.

    Edit isn't working right now, so my post upthread was a draft I hadn't meant to post. Apologies.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Warren has tried to be open about her mistakes in inaccurately claiming to have significant Native American ancestry, and it’s really not been something that anyone has been taken well. She didn’t handle it well, but apology is a difficult thing to do right.

    That was Warren diving into an obvious trap that anyone on the internet who has seen trolls talk shit knew was a trap.

    I think she's a pretty good politician, but she suuuucks at avoiding things like this. I don't think there's an excuse she can give at this point that wont just make it worse. She should apologize, say she got caught feeding a troll while naively trying to make things better and explain herself and then never speak of it again.

    FeralHeir
  • iTunesIsEviliTunesIsEvil Registered User regular
    I'm starting to wonder if a lot of middle-aged+ folks are just angry that they're gonna have a guilty thought enter their heads for a moment the next time they watch Holiday Inn. (in which Bing Crosby and Virginia Dale do a full-on minstrel blackface number for Lincoln's Birthday, and that's certainly not the only "oh wow shit that there's some racist shit" moment in the film)

  • The WolfmanThe Wolfman Registered User regular
    Even if you did ask politicians to come out and admit any mistakes they made, and the answer was "Yes, I did something I'm ashamed of, here it is", odds are fairly good you'd then not vote for them anyways. Making that whole song and dance pointless. It's a nice catch-22, admit your mistakes so I can trust you, but now I don't trust you because you made mistakes.

    I have found that the logic and thinking behind this is pretty simple, as I've seen it enough times to recognize it by now. It goes a bit like this:

    "So you did *insert bad thing here*? Well I've always known doing that was wrong. That you still chose to do it means you're a garbage person, and who knows what other garbage you might do. Therefore you need to disappear."

    How extreme people get with it can vary, but that's generally the long and short of it. Not that different from your standard "purity test". "I always knew doing that was bad and have never done it, so you doing it makes you fundamentally bad". The precise nature of what was done usually factors in too. Somebody said the word "retarded"? Yeah I probably did that as an ignorant child. Oh they said the N word one time 20 years ago, well I would never do that even back then so throw them in the hole and cover it with cement. Who cares about the apology, a truly good person wouldn't have done it in the first place.

    Actually, after typing all that up, I can sum it up more simpler. We all commit the same failing, at some point and in some degree, that "Only a bad person would do a bad thing". And as we're seeing more and more lately, nobody wants to deal with bad people.

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  • Stabbity StyleStabbity Style Warning: Mothership Reporting Walla Walla, WARegistered User regular
    I'm starting to wonder if a lot of middle-aged+ folks are just angry that they're gonna have a guilty thought enter their heads for a moment the next time they watch Holiday Inn. (in which Bing Crosby and Virginia Dale do a full-on minstrel blackface number for Lincoln's Birthday, and that's certainly not the only "oh wow shit that there's some racist shit" moment in the film)

    I mean, that's mostly what this, and to a greater extent the backlash against PC culture, has been about. People don't want to have to think critically about why some things that used to be ok aren't ok anymore. Either that or they're just straight up bigots, but I have to hope that's a smaller segment.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Probably everyone above a certain age knows they did something racist in their past and this makes them defensive.

    Aridholdispatch.oStabbity StyleMatev
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 8
    I believe a lot of people just kind of assume that since they aren't racist, they can just do whatever they want without regard for how it might be taken by others, and it's not racist because look, we already agreed I wasn't racist, okay?

    Theoretically, changing the color of your skin isn't qualitatively different than changing, say, the color of your hair. It's fine to wear a red wig on Halloween, therefore it's fine to wear blackface. In a vacuum, the logic scans, but unfortunately we live in a world with a centuries-long history of racism where blackface has really, really shitty implications in a way that wearing a silly wig doesn't.

    (And I'm speaking of the sort of blackface where you're just trying to dress up like Michael Jackson as a costume, or whatever, not the sort where you're trying to mock someone.)

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    As far as blackface specifically, I've seen some folks on Twitter suggest that a lot of white people don't associate it with racism because racism is bad and negative, while dressing up in blackface is all about having fun and having a good time. Folks literally can't process that you can derive enjoyment from racist actions without that joy being "I love being a racist."

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  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    As far as blackface specifically, I've seen some folks on Twitter suggest that a lot of white people don't associate it with racism because racism is bad and negative, while dressing up in blackface is all about having fun and having a good time. Folks literally can't process that you can derive enjoyment from racist actions without that joy being "I love being a racist."

    Show those folks the pictures of all the happy folks at lynchings.

    zepherin
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    As far as blackface specifically, I've seen some folks on Twitter suggest that a lot of white people don't associate it with racism because racism is bad and negative, while dressing up in blackface is all about having fun and having a good time. Folks literally can't process that you can derive enjoyment from racist actions without that joy being "I love being a racist."
    Sometimes people try to justify some craziness.

    I saw an African American lady on the news say something that was so racist towards Asians to an Asian lady I kicked my dvr back a couple seconds to make sure I head that right.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Racism isn't exclusive to any group. I worked in a Japanese kitchen when I was young and holy shit. The younger people spent all their time cringing over what the family owners would say.

    In the story I interrupted in my previous post one of the nurses said, "Michael Jackson wasn't really black anyway."

    I just can't process some people sometimes. Like their existence is 2+2=5. How do you get someone who thinks those things aloud to understand they're not really the group that needs to forgive anything?

    I'm in Oregon. I can only imagine in Tennessee that would get a chuckle out of the room.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    I'm in Oregon. I can only imagine in Tennessee that would get a chuckle out of the room.

    It's worth remembering that Oregon was literally founded on white supremacy (for a period, it was actually illegal to be black in Oregon.)

    As for the topic of the thread, the Rev. William Barber, head of the Poor People's Campaign, has an op-ed in the Washington Post on the matter that's worth a read.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Somewhere along the way we got to "racism=bad person" and so every debate and issue at a societal level turns into "is this person good or bad" which is pretty useless.

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  • WyvernWyvern Registered User regular
    edited February 8
    A lot of people don't understand just how worthless performative acceptance really is.

    The cardinal rule when it comes to truly being knowledgeable, accepting, and helpful with regards to the issues facing marginalized groups is this: Listen to their stories. Believe them. Internalize them. Deconstruct your pre-existing instincts opposing their account and figure out where they come from and why they're wrong (because they pretty much always are).

    Most people don't do this. For most people, Rule 1 is "I'm a good person who deserves to be celebrated for being a good person", and Rule 2 is "Stick to the script." Don't say the things that racists get in trouble for saying. Do say the things that liberal allies get celebrated for. That way it will be easier for other people to not get confused about Rule 1.

    I'm a lesbian trans woman, and I can tell you right now that the vaaaaaast majority of the harassment and hostility I have do deal with comes from self-proclaimed liberal allies talking out of their asses about stuff they don't understand. Somebody very proudly says some stupid thing that they're positive is really woke and clever, I say "um, actually that attitude is really harmful to people like me because of XYZ", and then they lash out. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Sometimes because they're mad that I didn't uphold my end of the social transaction by rewarding what they think is correct behavior, sometimes because they're so confident in how smart and enlightened they are that surely I'm just being stupid or petty or unreasonably emotional for disagreeing with them about my own god damned life. We know how to see through that shit. We can't not know how to see through it and still survive in this world.

    Here's the thing. You can't just reason your way to wokeness. If your understanding of the stuff marginalized groups go through and how you ought to treat them is based on identifying and replicating successful behavior, or pure rational introspection, or Very Serious Academic Discussions in groups where the human subjects of the discussion are unrepresented, then you've internalized a bunch of dumb nonsense and are fucking up all the time when you talk about it. Guaranteed. The only usable foundation for this kind of knowledge is being a member of the marginalized group in question and actually living through it, or learning directly from those people. There are no shortcuts. None of the stuff I thought I understood as a teenager about racism against black Americans was worth shit until I truly started seeking out and listening to primary sources and accepted how narrow and useless my previous understanding was.

    Is it possible to actually, truly learn and grow beyond the bad ideas and actions of your youth? Yeah, sure, it happens sometimes. My best friend (also a lesbian trans woman) grew up in an abusive, fundamentalist-Christian family and was more or less forbidden from making any friends or interacting with anybody outside of her church group. She was literally brainwashed into believing that stuff for a bunch of years until she finally escaped and figured stuff out (though she's still stuck feeling guilty about the way she used to be pretty much all the time). I don't hold that stuff against her; that would be stupid.

    But when it comes to bad shit surfacing about public figures, it's extremely rare for them to be able to say that they changed substantially a long time ago and have been ashamed of the dumb thing for a long time. Usually it goes more like...
    1. I'm not racist/homophobic/whatever. I'm a good person
    2. I didn't mean that thing I did in a racist/homophobic/whatever way to begin with, really.
    3. It never occurred to me that this might be a big deal to anybody until this exact moment when I got in trouble.
    4. It shouldn't be a big deal; everyone is just confused about me.
    5. I have to figure out the right things to say and do to make this go away and stop interfering with my good-person life.
    6. Anyone who doesn't buy into my supposed contrition is just being an asshole for no reason.
    ...and that isn't worth a goddamned thing.

    And then of course there are a ton of scenarios in between those two extremes, with innumerable variations on questions like, "Were there direct victims of the behavior? How lasting was the harm done? How long ago was it? Where was I in my life before and after? Did it involve abuse of power in some respect? Where did the alleged change come from? Are my claims of having changed borne out at all in my actual day-to-day behavior?" And so on and so forth.

    If the question here is "is there a way to codify a fixed, universal set of standards that define which actions are and aren't forgiveable or which types of apologies are and aren't good enough", the answer is "no, because forgiveness isn't transactional". You don't just pop in a quarter and get a guaranteed return no questions asked. There's a lot of nuance and subjectivity that can't just be rationalized away, and above all else the prevalence of the idea that forgiveness should be transactional--that it's correct to get angry at the people you hurt because they ate your quarter--is the main reason this is such a common problem to begin with.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    Wyvern wrote: »
    If the question here is "is there a way to codify a fixed, universal set of standards that define which actions are and aren't forgiveable or which types of apologies are and aren't good enough", the answer is "no, because forgiveness isn't transactional". You don't just pop in a quarter and get a guaranteed return no questions asked. There's a lot of nuance and subjectivity that can't just be rationalized away, and above all else the prevalence of the idea that forgiveness should be transactional--that it's correct to get angry at the people you hurt because they ate your quarter--is the main reason this is such a common problem to begin with.

    I don't think many people on this forum, or my life in general, view forgiveness as transactional. Or if they do, they at least accept the idea that you can refuse the sale.

    I think that a lot of rich and/or powerful people view forgiveness as transactional because, in my experience (anecdotal!), they view everything as a transaction. They don't understand what's happening and they have no interest in learning about it, so they want to do the minimum required to make the problem go away and get on with their life.

    The epitome of this is currently Donald Trump. You can easily see with him that everything is a zero sum transaction in which he has to win, and everyone else has to lose.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited February 8
    A lot of people do see forgiveness as transactional, at least in their personal lives. I don't think it's everybody or even the majority, but it still happens a lot.

    But yeah it wouldn't surprise me if that attitude got more and more common the higher in power you go.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited February 8
    Are public figures in this context exclusively those in positions of public policy / community leaders?

    Example: Louis C.K. may atone and be forgiven after a lengthy process of advocating for change while acknowledgement of past wrongdoing but never be a famous and we'll respected comedian or writer again. The best he gets may just be his daughters don't hate him. Ignoring the fact he isn't atoning in any way... he doesn't have any governmental power. Whether or not people like him again is pointless.


    A government figure who wants to be back in office? Say Anthony Weiner? Different standard of expected behavior, different standard of repentance?

    dispatch.o on
  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Are public figures in this context exclusively those in positions of public policy / community leaders?

    Example: Louis C.K. may atone and be forgiven after a lengthy process of advocating for change while acknowledgement of past wrongdoing but never be a famous and we'll respected comedian or writer again. The best he gets may just be his daughters don't hate him. Ignoring the fact he isn't atoning in any way... he doesn't have any governmental power. Whether or not people like him again is pointless.


    A government figure who wants to be back in office? Say Anthony Weiner? Different standard of expected behavior, different standard of repentance?

    Whether or not people like him is what makes him a famous and well respected comedian and writer.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Wyvern wrote: »
    A lot of people don't understand just how worthless performative acceptance really is.

    The cardinal rule when it comes to truly being knowledgeable, accepting, and helpful with regards to the issues facing marginalized groups is this: Listen to their stories. Believe them. Internalize them. Deconstruct your pre-existing instincts opposing their account and figure out where they come from and why they're wrong (because they pretty much always are).

    Most people don't do this. For most people, Rule 1 is "I'm a good person who deserves to be celebrated for being a good person", and Rule 2 is "Stick to the script." Don't say the things that racists get in trouble for saying. Do say the things that liberal allies get celebrated for. That way it will be easier for other people to not get confused about Rule 1.

    I'm a lesbian trans woman, and I can tell you right now that the vaaaaaast majority of the harassment and hostility I have do deal with comes from self-proclaimed liberal allies talking out of their asses about stuff they don't understand. Somebody very proudly says some stupid thing that they're positive is really woke and clever, I say "um, actually that attitude is really harmful to people like me because of XYZ", and then they lash out. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Sometimes because they're mad that I didn't uphold my end of the social transaction by rewarding what they think is correct behavior, sometimes because they're so confident in how smart and enlightened they are that surely I'm just being stupid or petty or unreasonably emotional for disagreeing with them about my own god damned life. We know how to see through that shit. We can't not know how to see through it and still survive in this world.

    Here's the thing. You can't just reason your way to wokeness. If your understanding of the stuff marginalized groups go through and how you ought to treat them is based on identifying and replicating successful behavior, or pure rational introspection, or Very Serious Academic Discussions in groups where the human subjects of the discussion are unrepresented, then you've internalized a bunch of dumb nonsense and are fucking up all the time when you talk about it. Guaranteed. The only usable foundation for this kind of knowledge is being a member of the marginalized group in question and actually living through it, or learning directly from those people. There are no shortcuts. None of the stuff I thought I understood as a teenager about racism against black Americans was worth shit until I truly started seeking out and listening to primary sources and accepted how narrow and useless my previous understanding was.

    Is it possible to actually, truly learn and grow beyond the bad ideas and actions of your youth? Yeah, sure, it happens sometimes. My best friend (also a lesbian trans woman) grew up in an abusive, fundamentalist-Christian family and was more or less forbidden from making any friends or interacting with anybody outside of her church group. She was literally brainwashed into believing that stuff for a bunch of years until she finally escaped and figured stuff out (though she's still stuck feeling guilty about the way she used to be pretty much all the time). I don't hold that stuff against her; that would be stupid.

    But when it comes to bad shit surfacing about public figures, it's extremely rare for them to be able to say that they changed substantially a long time ago and have been ashamed of the dumb thing for a long time. Usually it goes more like...
    1. I'm not racist/homophobic/whatever. I'm a good person
    2. I didn't mean that thing I did in a racist/homophobic/whatever way to begin with, really.
    3. It never occurred to me that this might be a big deal to anybody until this exact moment when I got in trouble.
    4. It shouldn't be a big deal; everyone is just confused about me.
    5. I have to figure out the right things to say and do to make this go away and stop interfering with my good-person life.
    6. Anyone who doesn't buy into my supposed contrition is just being an asshole for no reason.
    ...and that isn't worth a goddamned thing.

    And then of course there are a ton of scenarios in between those two extremes, with innumerable variations on questions like, "Were there direct victims of the behavior? How lasting was the harm done? How long ago was it? Where was I in my life before and after? Did it involve abuse of power in some respect? Where did the alleged change come from? Are my claims of having changed borne out at all in my actual day-to-day behavior?" And so on and so forth.

    If the question here is "is there a way to codify a fixed, universal set of standards that define which actions are and aren't forgiveable or which types of apologies are and aren't good enough", the answer is "no, because forgiveness isn't transactional". You don't just pop in a quarter and get a guaranteed return no questions asked. There's a lot of nuance and subjectivity that can't just be rationalized away, and above all else the prevalence of the idea that forgiveness should be transactional--that it's correct to get angry at the people you hurt because they ate your quarter--is the main reason this is such a common problem to begin with.

    For like a politicians or something though the middle-bottom sections of your post suggest that the strategy you suggest at the top is the most viable though. If not just change but the real acceptance of that change is extremely rare then the only goal is to perform the right rituals so you can keep doing whatever it is you were trying to do in the first place when the story surfaced.

    Like, the thing is that performative acceptance is not worthless. It's the opposite really. It can be quite effective at putting the issue to bed.

    electricitylikesme
  • WyvernWyvern Registered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    Wyvern wrote: »
    A lot of people don't understand just how worthless performative acceptance really is.

    The cardinal rule when it comes to truly being knowledgeable, accepting, and helpful with regards to the issues facing marginalized groups is this: Listen to their stories. Believe them. Internalize them. Deconstruct your pre-existing instincts opposing their account and figure out where they come from and why they're wrong (because they pretty much always are).

    Most people don't do this. For most people, Rule 1 is "I'm a good person who deserves to be celebrated for being a good person", and Rule 2 is "Stick to the script." Don't say the things that racists get in trouble for saying. Do say the things that liberal allies get celebrated for. That way it will be easier for other people to not get confused about Rule 1.

    I'm a lesbian trans woman, and I can tell you right now that the vaaaaaast majority of the harassment and hostility I have do deal with comes from self-proclaimed liberal allies talking out of their asses about stuff they don't understand. Somebody very proudly says some stupid thing that they're positive is really woke and clever, I say "um, actually that attitude is really harmful to people like me because of XYZ", and then they lash out. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Sometimes because they're mad that I didn't uphold my end of the social transaction by rewarding what they think is correct behavior, sometimes because they're so confident in how smart and enlightened they are that surely I'm just being stupid or petty or unreasonably emotional for disagreeing with them about my own god damned life. We know how to see through that shit. We can't not know how to see through it and still survive in this world.

    Here's the thing. You can't just reason your way to wokeness. If your understanding of the stuff marginalized groups go through and how you ought to treat them is based on identifying and replicating successful behavior, or pure rational introspection, or Very Serious Academic Discussions in groups where the human subjects of the discussion are unrepresented, then you've internalized a bunch of dumb nonsense and are fucking up all the time when you talk about it. Guaranteed. The only usable foundation for this kind of knowledge is being a member of the marginalized group in question and actually living through it, or learning directly from those people. There are no shortcuts. None of the stuff I thought I understood as a teenager about racism against black Americans was worth shit until I truly started seeking out and listening to primary sources and accepted how narrow and useless my previous understanding was.

    Is it possible to actually, truly learn and grow beyond the bad ideas and actions of your youth? Yeah, sure, it happens sometimes. My best friend (also a lesbian trans woman) grew up in an abusive, fundamentalist-Christian family and was more or less forbidden from making any friends or interacting with anybody outside of her church group. She was literally brainwashed into believing that stuff for a bunch of years until she finally escaped and figured stuff out (though she's still stuck feeling guilty about the way she used to be pretty much all the time). I don't hold that stuff against her; that would be stupid.

    But when it comes to bad shit surfacing about public figures, it's extremely rare for them to be able to say that they changed substantially a long time ago and have been ashamed of the dumb thing for a long time. Usually it goes more like...
    1. I'm not racist/homophobic/whatever. I'm a good person
    2. I didn't mean that thing I did in a racist/homophobic/whatever way to begin with, really.
    3. It never occurred to me that this might be a big deal to anybody until this exact moment when I got in trouble.
    4. It shouldn't be a big deal; everyone is just confused about me.
    5. I have to figure out the right things to say and do to make this go away and stop interfering with my good-person life.
    6. Anyone who doesn't buy into my supposed contrition is just being an asshole for no reason.
    ...and that isn't worth a goddamned thing.

    And then of course there are a ton of scenarios in between those two extremes, with innumerable variations on questions like, "Were there direct victims of the behavior? How lasting was the harm done? How long ago was it? Where was I in my life before and after? Did it involve abuse of power in some respect? Where did the alleged change come from? Are my claims of having changed borne out at all in my actual day-to-day behavior?" And so on and so forth.

    If the question here is "is there a way to codify a fixed, universal set of standards that define which actions are and aren't forgiveable or which types of apologies are and aren't good enough", the answer is "no, because forgiveness isn't transactional". You don't just pop in a quarter and get a guaranteed return no questions asked. There's a lot of nuance and subjectivity that can't just be rationalized away, and above all else the prevalence of the idea that forgiveness should be transactional--that it's correct to get angry at the people you hurt because they ate your quarter--is the main reason this is such a common problem to begin with.

    For like a politicians or something though the middle-bottom sections of your post suggest that the strategy you suggest at the top is the most viable though. If not just change but the real acceptance of that change is extremely rare then the only goal is to perform the right rituals so you can keep doing whatever it is you were trying to do in the first place when the story surfaced.

    Like, the thing is that performative acceptance is not worthless. It's the opposite really. It can be quite effective at putting the issue to bed.
    Sometimes they SHOULDN'T keep doing what they were trying to do.

    Somebody just brought up Louis CK, which is an excellent example here. Louis CK should have never worked in comedy again, period. The stuff he did was too recent, too severe, caused too much lasting damage, and was too closely entwined with the abuse of the power and influence he wielded in the field for his career to ever be disentangled from it. The fact that he thought he could just write an apology letter and show up again less than a year later was fucking bullshit. If he was serious about atoning for it he should have retired and found something else to do with his life.

    Is that always the case in every situation? Not necessarily, no. But sometimes it is. And if people can't even accept the possibility that one might need to relinquish power or wealth or career to begin making up for things they've done--if the transactional benefit of "but ultimately you'll get to keep going the same as before" is demanded up front before the discussion has even really begun--then they really don't deserve forgiveness.

    The lesson that the Louis CK situation teaches us isn't "this is the good and correct model for how one should apologize and resume their career after a fuck-up"; the real lesson is "our culture as a whole doesn't genuinely believe that women deserve not to be sexually harassed by their superiors until they're bullied out of their careers and they should just shut up and get over it". And after watching that happen five hundred times in a row, if, on the five hundred and first incident, women say "no, fuck this, I'm done with this bullshit; nobody gets forgiven anymore until I see shit actually change for once", so many people are ready to say, "My, how unreasonable these women are being with their impossible demands; let's ignore them so more rational voices can resolve this issue." It fucking sucks every time.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    I fully agree that 9 months (Louis CK) is too soon for a lifetime of sexual assault, but I have to ask, what is sufficient penance? Or, is there even a sufficient penance?

    To me, there are certain crimes that can be committed that no amount of contrition will make up for. Off the top of my head, murder, rape, involvement with child pornography (which is an even more heinous rape), and slavery.

    I can forgive someone that has had a lifetime history of abuse, racism, or other crimes. But it's going to be an uphill battle and will take a very extended period of demonstrating true contrition and lifestyle changes before I'm willing to do so.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    We can't set standards for penance or atonement or whatever you want to call it, because every single instance requires its own evaluation.

    But I can assure you that what Louis CK has done is objectively not an example of even a motion towards achieving penance/atonement/etc.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited February 8
    I don't want Louis CK to be taken as too literal an example for the thread. He's just a very popular public figure who isn't a community leader that came to mind.

    Ownership of the wrong doing seems to be something everyone agrees is important. It would be nice if the people attempting to shrug off the guilt and shortcut the need to suffer public consequences agreed. Without admitting that you did a thing the road to reacceptance by society should be infinite.

    There's going to have to be some criteria beyond, "When it feels right."

    When it feels right can really just mean when people forget. The Pianist should have never received funding for example. I don't think Polanski did anything but flee the country.

    dispatch.o on
  • Yes, and...Yes, and... Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    We can't set standards for penance or atonement or whatever you want to call it, because every single instance requires its own evaluation.

    But I can assure you that what Louis CK has done is objectively not an example of even a motion towards achieving penance/atonement/etc.

    Perfect penance would involve admission of wrongdoing/fault at the earliest possible opportunity, either giving a voice to those wronged or protecting their privacy (whichever their preference), meaningful loss or sacrifice proportionate to the harm caused, and ongoing better behaviour. As a standard, this needs to be understood as more aspirational than attainable, and the application of the standard of course depends on context.

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  • AstaerethAstaereth In the belly of the beastRegistered User regular
    I felt at the time that if CK apologized, demonstrated he knew why what he did was wrong, promised not to do it again, and worked to help the community he had harmed through charity and so on, I'd be okay with him coming back and doing comedy again five years later.

    Doing some of those things and coming back in nine months doesn't really cut it for me.

    It's also the case that CK built his reputation not just on being funny but on being honest, especially about some of what we thought were his darkest impulses and most selfish behaviors. He was always going to have to address his misconduct in some way in order to try and restore the amount of creative respect he previously held, but apparently he hasn't been doing that, either.

    I don't know if my standard there is unreasonable, but I know he failed it, and I'm sorry he did, because until this happened I was a huge fan.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    Astaereth wrote: »
    I felt at the time that if CK apologized, demonstrated he knew why what he did was wrong, promised not to do it again, and worked to help the community he had harmed through charity and so on, I'd be okay with him coming back and doing comedy again five years later.

    Doing some of those things and coming back in nine months doesn't really cut it for me.

    It's also the case that CK built his reputation not just on being funny but on being honest, especially about some of what we thought were his darkest impulses and most selfish behaviors. He was always going to have to address his misconduct in some way in order to try and restore the amount of creative respect he previously held, but apparently he hasn't been doing that, either.

    I don't know if my standard there is unreasonable, but I know he failed it, and I'm sorry he did, because until this happened I was a huge fan.

    I'd be ok with Louis CK practicing comedy again after 9 months if he had shown genuine contrition and had made lifestyle changes that demonstrate it will never happen again. For example, if he had spent his time away supporting abused women's charities and when he made his comeback, had been open and honest about his misdeeds as part of his routine. But he didn't. He issued an apology letter then disappeared for 9 months, and has ignored the topic since. Which makes it seem like he was hoping people would forget.

    Northrup, for example, would be in fine shape had he taken responsibility and showed how, over the years, he had worked to improve race relations as part of his duties. Instead, he went through the 6-step program that Wyvern lined out.

    I'm ok with someone that wore blackface while in college 30 years ago, because the culture was different. I'm ok with the fact that they may not have even thought about that episode in the past 30 years. I'm not OK with someone denying it and trying to sweep it under the rug.

    I was raised as a Republican in Mississippi, so it's no surprise to find out that when I was younger I was a racist shitbag. I didn't learn to be better until college, when I got away from the influence of my family and friends. And it took me years after college to realize how toxic that environment was. If someone accused me of doing something racist 20 years ago, I'd apologize and point to things I've done since then to atone for my deeds.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited February 9
    Probably everyone above a certain age knows they did something racist in their past and this makes them defensive.

    I'd say trying to find an age cutoff is entirely worthless in this context.

    We have people now, being brought up by the same shitty values that some of our parents brought us up with. Some of them might even be worse than parents of the past did. We've got innumerable instances of racist shit from the youth in this country and they keep piling up.

    Trying to attach this to some notion that "people my age know better" is kind of silly and not reflective of reality.

    And in 20 years, we'll have repentant former bigots just like we have now.

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  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    edited February 9
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    We can't set standards for penance or atonement or whatever you want to call it, because every single instance requires its own evaluation.

    But I can assure you that what Louis CK has done is objectively not an example of even a motion towards achieving penance/atonement/etc.

    The unknown variables make conversations difficult to narrow down exactly what steps someone must do to earn forgiveness, as simply trying to understand what constitutes actions to attain that goal can be seen as transactional - which is a no-no. Over the last few years, whether in entertainment or politics there truly is no clear path to be redeemed since everyone will simply assume you're evil, regardless and may destroy your carer forever no matter what you do since we can't know how people feel or think in their hearts. That said, I can definitely agree that Louie CK should do comedy again and Governor Northam should step down.

    This thread has been wonderful and fainting in exploring various viewpoints but to date there are no clear answers so we're back to square one.

    Another factor is that if someone truly is trying to redeem themselves how would you know they were genuine? How would they prove that? The thread has gone over admitting past mistakes, trying to get the temperature of communities and trying to show deeds of worth but it remains an opaque solution because the public absolutely do not do this to any degree of clarity as there are millions of people from all those groups who don't all agree on everything and ranges from not caring to never forgiving people regardless of what they do. Which is why I think people what have done wrong default to doing what they are doing or moving to another audience who will accept them because they have nothing to lose since there may not be a path to forgiveness in the first place.

    Society changes and everyone here will be seen as conservative and wrong several generations from now, so we're going to constantly run into these situations in the future because sometimes it's difficult to tell what will be accepted and when we do know it'll be history that we can't go back and change. This, of course, varies on how they fucked up. This is the negative at viewing incidents like this as a culture rather than a court room, where there there are rules in place which are obvious to everyone. Society, not so much.

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    There are a couple of things I disagree with in the thread.

    To start (because it's a bit off topic so lets get it out of the way), I generally think comedy should be allowed to explore many areas/topics. Obviously the potential for harm can be high, and should not be ignored, but I take exception to the idea that topics like race, stereotypes, sexual assault, whatever, just simply can not be done in comedy. But as it's not the topic of the thread, lets just say agree to disagree and I won't mention it again.

    Second, there is, I think, a bit of a blurred line in the thread about what constitutes a public figure. Maybe I'm imagining the counter argument, but I would like to point out that there should be a very limited selection of jobs/industries where this type of scrutiny is warranted. CEO's for example have been mentioned, which isn't really a public job. I know recently america is want to aggrandize CEO's, and they have in turn used that popularity (blurring the lines), but it is not by default a public position. If I own my own local business I may be the CEO/founder, but that shouldn't give anyone who comes into my establishment the right to know my history.

    Third, this isn't really a disagreement with the general attitudes herein, but I think the most important factor for me in terms of atonement is some measure of real contrition. I can't say I know the magical way to prove such a thing, but I am very often left feeling like what the accused would like is for everyone to stop talking about it. When what I should be feeling is that the accused's most important goal is to make clear the error of their ways, and assure they can and will do better.

    I very much dislike the general culture of never admitting, downplaying all mistakes. I think if you have truly learned from the experience, you should relish the opportunity to discuss how wrong you were, and why you changed your mind. Rather than giving there barest of acknowledgements while quickly trying to change the subject.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    This is from last September, but I thought it might be worth sharing with the thread. Socialist Virginia House Delegate Lee J. Carter published a Twitter thread outlining basically everything he's done that might come up in the future.

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  • WyvernWyvern Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Second, there is, I think, a bit of a blurred line in the thread about what constitutes a public figure. Maybe I'm imagining the counter argument, but I would like to point out that there should be a very limited selection of jobs/industries where this type of scrutiny is warranted. CEO's for example have been mentioned, which isn't really a public job. I know recently america is want to aggrandize CEO's, and they have in turn used that popularity (blurring the lines), but it is not by default a public position. If I own my own local business I may be the CEO/founder, but that shouldn't give anyone who comes into my establishment the right to know my history.
    CEOs are entrusted with power over the lives of their employees in much the same way as politicians are entrusted with power over the lives of their constituents. Likewise, in a field which relies on high public visibility like acting or comedy, somebody with a lot of fame can easily destroy the careers of up-and-comers or other less influential voices by turning their fans against them. I think these cases meet the standard of "public figure" perfectly well. Even something like an asshole branch manager who gets away with sexual harassment and racism due to support or apathy of the higher-ups is a pretty solid microcosm of the same scenario, in my opinion.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    I disagree that a CEO is not a public job, but I have very high standards for employers and I think we too easily promote people to managerial & executive positions in the US. Until we go full basic income, anybody who manages employees is effectively a public servant. (We don't treat them that way, but we should.)

    But let's say we agree to disagree on that point. I recognize it's rather left of center.

    It shouldn't be controversial to regard the CEO of a publicly-traded company as a public figure, because anybody in the public can invest in his company (and he has a responsibility to his shareholders).

    (BTW, unless I missed something, literally nobody here is saying that comedy may never address controversial or sensitivity topics like race or rape. I'd say that you can broach those topics, but you have to be extremely conscientious about how you approach them, and what message your joke is sending. That's a small part of what made Louis CK's behavior so heartbreaking: he seemed to get it. Now that he's returned to comedy with the "damn kids and their political correctness run amok" angle, it makes me wonder how much of his prior act was just pandering.)

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited February 10
    Wyvern wrote: »
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Second, there is, I think, a bit of a blurred line in the thread about what constitutes a public figure. Maybe I'm imagining the counter argument, but I would like to point out that there should be a very limited selection of jobs/industries where this type of scrutiny is warranted. CEO's for example have been mentioned, which isn't really a public job. I know recently america is want to aggrandize CEO's, and they have in turn used that popularity (blurring the lines), but it is not by default a public position. If I own my own local business I may be the CEO/founder, but that shouldn't give anyone who comes into my establishment the right to know my history.
    CEOs are entrusted with power over the lives of their employees in much the same way as politicians are entrusted with power over the lives of their constituents. Likewise, in a field which relies on high public visibility like acting or comedy, somebody with a lot of fame can easily destroy the careers of up-and-comers or other less influential voices by turning their fans against them. I think these cases meet the standard of "public figure" perfectly well. Even something like an asshole branch manager who gets away with sexual harassment and racism due to support or apathy of the higher-ups is a pretty solid microcosm of the same scenario, in my opinion.

    I’m not sure “entrusted with power” is an adequate litmus test. It can more or less be applied to literally every job with some kind of human interaction. I entrusted this cashier with the power to use my card and handle my goods. Should I get access to their entire history to make sure I trust them?

    I think we agree though that certain jobs are inherently public, like movie star. I’m not sure I would lump CEO in there, but it is a borderline case.

    But I disagree that digging through someone’s background is a necessary defense against bad deeds. I don’t need to know my managers entire history to know if something bad is happening now. I think you can have adequate protections for workers or normal interactions without needing a persons full history, or even knowing the entirety of their beliefs. It is possible for example for a racist person to be a fine coworker.

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