alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
So, one of the things that affected the committee's "sentence" for Jim Frenkel was his claim that his settlement with his former employer Tor (an imprint of Macmillan Publishing) would prevent him from speaking publicly about his conduct for five years, which would be four years now. The existence of this injunction became the basis for the time period before Frenkel could petition for readmission, since they couldn't expect him to apologize and acknowledge what he did publicly before that.

I've said before that it was completely unnecessary for WisCon to incorporate this supposed settlement into their decision. Even if one accepts the idea that he could acknowledge his wrongdoing and petition for re-entry, any legal trouble that would prevent him from doing so until a certain date would be his problem. Setting the timetable based on neither helps nor harms him from a strictly objective standpoint.

Yesterday, it came out--confirmed by the legal department of Macmillan--that he was bound to no such agreement. He straight up lied about its existence.

Some people have positioned this as him lying to avoid apologizing, or lying to avoid punishment. I'm not sure that the second is exactly accurate--by which I mean, I don't know that he actually avoided punishment by it--but the fact is, they're both far too innocent a description for what happened here.

What he did was lie to avoid acknowledging his conduct, publicly and on the record.

Jim Frenkel is a serial harasser and abuser of women. I saw a disagreement on Twitter earlier today about whether he had really "flown under the radar" or whether he was a "known quantity", and the fact is, he was both. Some people knew, some people didn't, and the things that some people knew differed in apparent context and magnitude.

A man like this depends on the fact that information is compartmentalized, even within a community. A man like this needs to be able to shake his sadly and say, "Well, that's their story." or chuckle wryly and say, "The things they say about me." or "You know these things have a way of getting blown out of proportion." or (if he has the right audience) "Women, right?", whenever there's even a glancing mention of his past conduct.

He has to be able to spin off the things that "everyone knows" about him as so much rumor and innuendo and exaggeration to the people who aren't part of the everyone who knows them.

The question of why it took so long for him to suffer any real consequences is a complicated and sad one involving many failings, societal and personal. I have to imagine that the matter of why now, though... the question of why critical mass started to build up around 2010 and a tipping point was reached between 2013 and 2014 has a lot to do with the internet, with the way that it has de-compartmentalized information and brought people together, and even changed the way that many people think about and deal with these things in offline spaces.

Frenkel has not acknowledged his conduct in any public space or forum. He showed up this year at WisCon 38 to assert his innocence. A man like this will privately express "regret" show "contrition" when necessary, but to have a public statement from his own lips or fingers where he owns up to what he did would be devastating. That's the Game Over.

Or at least, a major setback. He might be arrogant enough to believe he could still spin that as an unfair condition that he was forced to accept, and might be charming enough to sell that to some people.

The bottom line is, the fact that Jim Frenkel lied about this and the circumstances of the lie are collectively one of the most dangerous indicators of his true character yet revealed. They reveal that his contrition is a sham, they reveal that his manipulations are deliberate and calculated, and they reveal that his intentions are not to change his ways, not any more and for any longer than he has to, in order to continue to get away with this.

I know a lot of people have been hoping that the sub-committee's decision would be revoked and substituted with another one. I know virtually everyone has been hoping that they will at least release an official clarification to firm up the timeline. I don't know what the conversation around this in the ConCom looks like right now, or even if it's still continuing.

I would certainly hope that the knowledge that he lied to the sub-committee would on its face be enough to end the debate and merit a permanent ban. I can sadly imagine people who still value loyalty over member safety, con ideals, or even the reputation of the con making the argument that there's no rule that says that and it's not like he was testifying under oath, which ignores the implication of the lie.

On the chance that the debate is still for whatever reason raging, I'd like to offer a way forward that doesn't require another sub-committee and doesn't require another decision of the same complexity.

The original decision mentioned that his provisional right to return would be subject to evidence of either substantial change in behavior, or continued problematic behavior. We now have evidence of continued problematic behavior, intent to continue problematic behavior, and fabricated evidence of changed behavior that calls into question .

My understanding is that the original decision was meant to say that there would be a hearing for this evidence in four years' time. Well, for whatever reason, it doesn't actually say that. Anywhere. All it says is that WisCon will entertain "grounded, substantive evidence" that he's changed, and also any evidence against him. Well, we have the evidence against him, and this evidence makes it hard to believe any evidence he provides would be substantive or grounded.

So my suggestion to the ConCom is this: in keeping with the wording of the original decision and in light of the evidence, kick him out the door and lock it behind him. No hearing. He blew it. He's gone.

Here's hoping that you're way ahead of me and these words are completely superfluous.

on 2014-07-24 03:56 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Beautifully said.

on 2014-07-25 08:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] tanithk
I agree with your assessment of the initial decision - I also interpreted it as an effective lifetime ban, since short of a personality transplant, he wasn't going to be able to prove anything. But it didn't sound that way to most people, apparently, and I don't know that that was in fact the sub-committee's intent.

Discussion on the ConCom list about this has been continuous for the past week, and we are reconsidering the issue in a big way.

Effectively, a chunk of the ConCom is appealing the decision on the behalf of the community, to the entire ConCom. That is my assessment; not an official/legal/whatever definition of what we are doing, and it makes a wide-ranging and difficult discussion sound much more straightforward than it has been. But that is what I see us converging on.

I am on the ConCom, participating in the discussion, but I am not speaking officially here, just summarizing what I see happening. Other people may see things differently. I just didn't want to leave you hanging.

Your points here are excellent, and those of us following the ConCom discussion are all too aware of them. We asked Macmillan's (Tor's) legal dept about the alleged NDA a couple of days ago; I don't know where you got your info, but it matches what they told us, and we are absolutely taking it into account.

Consensus is WisCon's default mode, which is fine for committees but doesn't work so well when a group this large needs to make a decision, so we are adopting a more democratic process for this issue. Someone will make an official announcement when the details are settled.

Working out the details of how to get a clear, unambiguous, verifiable, confidential and documented decision out of some 80 people (yes, there are that many people on the ConCom between last year and this year, some more active than others) has been difficult, but we are close to that point. How close, I don't know for sure; there are still details to sort out, but things are moving rapidly (for us - it may not look that way to everyone). Days, not weeks, I hope, but can't promise.

on 2014-07-25 10:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] tanithk

I agree. We need to do better at communicating, and are working on that, but have a long way to go. I think part of the problem is that when a discussion is wide-ranging and moving fast, it is hard to take a snapshot and say ’this is where we’re at’; it is a constantly mutating status. But even saying ’status: still mutating' would be better than having long perceived gaps in official communications.

It may feel to us on the ConCom who are trying to process and synthesize and respond to the many hundreds of often long, thoughtful emails on our list plus take in comments from the internet, that we are doing a lot, but it definitely doesn’t look like that to those who can’t see what we are doing.

It would help if someone were actually in charge. Or maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t know. We just put a group in charge of something, and then decided after we accepted it, to not accept their decision. So what do I know.

I do actually think our process of discussion is going somewhere and will result in something approaching consensus, and a better result, but that doesn’t mean anything to the rest of the world if they can’t see something of the process.

But when I try to think of what I would say in a daily status post, I don’t even know. I would want it to be something definite, and it isn’t yet, beyond that we’re busting our butts trying to sort this out and do a righter thing, and we’re not there yet, but we won’t stop until we are.

on 2014-07-25 09:25 pm (UTC)
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] mme_hardy
Good piece of reasoning.

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