Making Amends

This site has been public for a day and I’ve already received some strong feedback. I’m thankful for all of it, positive and otherwise. In fact, some of the negative feedback has been the most helpful, and let me realize I need to write a quick post explaining a bit more about this site and the living amends I hope to make in the coming… well, rest of my life.

In 2016 I was accused of groping a woman in 2003. I don’t remember the incident but I have accepted full personal responsibility for it. That was my bottom.

I have spent the last 16 months in recovery and studying Buddhism, working on myself. Part of that process is making amends – owning up to, apologizing for and making right the mistakes of our pasts. In January I was finally at a place to make amends to Caroline, the woman I hurt, and I got on the phone with her and did so. She generously accepted my amends, and as part of her belief in the concept of restorative justice told me that my next steps were to make amends to my community, which had been hurt by me in a number of ways:

  • When I was actively working I had an abrasive, combative and sometimes cruel style and attitude that led to people truly hating me. I did not take seriously my position and I interacted with people (especially on Twitter) in ways that hurt them, and I didn’t realize at the time that I was being hurtful, which is a problem in and of itself.
  • When Caroline came forward many people felt betrayed because some of my writing had been on topics of social justice, equality, feminism and representation in pop culture. My actions in 2003 were in direct contradiction to my stated values in 2016.
  • Four months into my recovery I was offered a new, behind-the-scenes position with my old employer in order to help me pay rent and maintain my health insurance. While my employment was not secret – it was announced to assembled staff at a major company meeting – it was not made public. We were wrong to handle it this way, and should have been more transparent. The lack of transparency also hurt many in the community, and impacted their trust of my old employer.

I regret all of these things. I regret that I used my position in my community too often to belittle others, when I could have been uplifting them. I regret that my efforts for social justice were undercut by my bad previous behavior. And I regret that my rehiring was conducted in a way that not only injured the film community that I loved but also the co-workers I admire and respect. I am truly sorry.

Now I am undertaking next steps to repair what I have destroyed. The first of these was to appear on the PBS TV show #MeToo, Now What?, which you can watch here. It was important to me that the producers reach out to and include Caroline, and I’m grateful that she agreed to be involved. I would be grateful if you took the time to check it out.

I am continuing to reach out privately to people I have hurt and am attempting to make amends with them. This is a process that will be ongoing for a long time because it has to be done correctly and with integrity. I will not speak publicly about any other amends I’m working on.

And now I have launched this blog. I have talents and skills that I have used negatively in the past, and now I am committed to using them positively. I hope to be able to create some repair in my community with this blog and my writing. This is not the conclusion of my attempts to make amends, but simply the next step in that ongoing process.

I’m trying to be fully transparent here while also respecting my recovery. I have updated the “About” page of this site in response to people saying it was too vague. That was a good note, so I took it.

Today I claim only progress, not perfection. I probably shouldn’t even be addressing all this stuff – it’s too close to the behaviors and habits of my negative online fighting days and is probably dangerous – but like I said, I’m not perfect. Every day is another day to try and be better, and to be of service. I believe that one of the ways I can be of service is through my writing.

You have no reason to believe any of what I wrote above. That’s okay, and I understand. You have no obligation to take me at my word or accept any of the claims I’ve made about myself and my current life. All I can do is my best, and imperfectly attempt on a daily basis to live the values I have embraced.

8 thoughts on “Making Amends

  1. Hi, I am not on the high-road looking down, first and foremost, but rather I just want to share my perspective because it may help you understand how people have reacted to you and what you might do to change that. I respect the goals stated here and have hope that you will experience a new beginning and successful journey.

    My perspective is that I just heard you for the first time on Canon episode 33. My first impression is that you would do anything to win an argument and were extremely competitive. You were so combative that you argued fairly innocuous things that were not on topic; for example, you argued about who screwed up more in college. She did begin with what may have seemed like a challenge (“If you’re going to talk about screwing up…), but I think she was finding common ground and possibly trying to make you feel better about her Bluto comment. You man-splained (let me explain nerds to you) and gas-lighted (you’re in dimension 9, while everyone on Earth agrees with me). You talked over her, dismissed her comments, tried out-talking, cut to a break with a stab, used mean-spirited sarcasm, tested her knowledge when she had already proven her merit, and insulted her personally. Argument is a great test of character. You have an opportunity to demonstrate improved character by sharing evidence and focusing on learning a unique perspective, rather than on winning.

    Even objective rules for measuring the quality of art are somewhat subjective choices. Still, I think it would serve you better to state those rules and the evidence of them and let the facts speak for themselves. Also, to accept the subjective part of examining art…that there is room for both people to be right. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the world liked Animal House better, and she still liked Revenge of the Nerds better. Her argument would still be right because she said why she liked hers better and gave reasons. She chose what she liked subjectively, but she had facts to support that what she liked existed. You can’t and shouldn’t try to take that away from someone. That’s an agree-to-disagree moment. I think she earned critical respect, in addition to basic human respect, because she cited evidence and even did research around the making of the movies. Usually, when women do that extra, it is because they feel like they have to do so to be treated as well as a man. Yet, you interrogate her about her taste and the name of a character like she hadn’t already proven herself at that point. It was upsetting to listen to especially at first when she wasn’t getting a chance to talk. I was relieved that she handled it well for the most part. She crosses into personal territory and sarcasm a couple of times herself, but overall she stuck to evidence and kept her cool.

    I think it would help your growth process to focus on the concept that “being kind is more important than being right” and to commit to avoiding base tactics in arguments. You could even steer the other person toward better behavior by stating the rules of argumentation first and reminding when necessary what was agreed upon—you would have to take care not to be condescending about it, though.

    Re-branding yourself will only work if you truly grow as a person, which you can do. Then, trust that your facts will speak for themselves.

    PS I think what you mean above about not stating your other amends publicly was meant to be about protecting the privacy of others, but you may want to clarify because it could come off that you have more dirt to hide.

    PSS I have no ball in that Canon game—I hated both movies! My favorite comedies at the time I saw them: The Great Outdoors, Clerks, Office Space, Sean of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz.

  2. I watched your PBS video, and I found it very moving. I’ve always enjoyed your writing, and I’m glad you’re back at it, and I’m glad you seem to be on a good path now.