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"Clarence" Creator fired from Cartoon Network after Harassment
July 3, 2014 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Skyler Page has been fired from Cartoon Network. The Clarence creator and voice of the title character has been fired for groping a co-worker on the show. The news broke yesterday from Maré Odomo (her work previously on the blue), and Emily Partridge came out shortly after as the person Odomo was talking about. And Partridge had been talking about an unnamed incident since June 29th. This morning, it was rumored that Page had been fired from Cartoon Network and banned from the premises, and later today, Cartoon Brew confirmed that this was the case. Pen Ward, creator of Adventure Time -- which Page had worked on prior to Clarence -- met with Partridge and the two talked about how to set up an online safe place for women in her situation.

It's also been alleged by Patrick Harpin, the former Head of Story on Clarence that Page had little to do with the creation of Clarence, beyond the voice and deciding he wanted to do a show about a "fat, dumb kid".
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me (44 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Misread that at first as saying that Partridge had been fired and banned from the premises, and was ready to get all het up. I'm glad that's not the case, though I feel sad that it seemed possible.

Anyway. Good on Cartoon Network, shame on Skyler Page. I've never seen Clarence, is it mean-spirited in its comedy? I wonder about whether there's a victimizer mentality link between engaging sexual harassment and seeing a "fat, dumb kid" as a source of comedy.
posted by kafziel at 5:28 PM on July 3


Clarence's comedy is the antithesis of mean spirited. Clarence is a super optimistic kid, who loves everyone and doesn't let things get him down. The show is super charming.
posted by tittergrrl at 5:33 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


Well, that's a breath of fresh air. Turns out Cartoon Network knows things that Silicon Valley doesn't. For example, they know that people who assault their coworkers should get fired.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:34 PM on July 3 [41 favorites]


Glad CN is meeting basic standards of human decency.
posted by NoraReed at 5:35 PM on July 3 [22 favorites]


On a side note, reading news in twitter format makes me feel angry and old.
posted by iamck at 5:43 PM on July 3 [8 favorites]


The thing that disturbs me is the message that people "knew" that women shouldn't be alone with the guy. In any work setting, how is that acceptable? Maybe I'm misreading it, but if there's a guy in any setting that you are warned not to be left alone with, wouldn't you immediately, as a very public company, demand that some sort of investigation happen, before a PR disaster like this happens, at the very least?
posted by xingcat at 5:50 PM on July 3 [9 favorites]


Pen Ward, creator of Adventure Time -- which Page had worked on prior to Clarence -- met with Partridge and the two talked about how to set up an online safe place for women in her situation.

Your honor, in defense of "Adventure Time as the Best TV", I present exhibit "A" - "A" for "Algebraic!" May I approach the bench for a fist-bump?
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:58 PM on July 3 [18 favorites]


Sadly, though, that seems to be pretty common though. That was one of the things that made Emily Partridge come out -- she said that she had gone to HR earlier (one rumor I'd heard mentioned today is that a while ago, there were apparently rumors that they were looking for a new voice actor for Clarence because Page was "too busy"), but that by staying quiet, other people wouldn't know to stay away from him.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 5:59 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Rev. Syung Myung Me: "one rumor I'd heard mentioned today is that a while ago, there were apparently rumors that they were looking for a new voice actor for Clarence because Page was "too busy""

Interesting. The speed with which Cartoon Network acted compared to other companies in similar situations made me wonder whether CN is unusually responsive to sexual harassment or (more ominously) that they already knew this guy was a serial abuser and their hand was forced.
posted by mhum at 6:03 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I love the quote "Dudes should live in fear of treating women like shit", and I'm glad they're taking action.

But the apparant previous stance of: he's dangerous so people knew to stay away from him, as opposed to he's dangerous let's get rid of him? Wtf?
posted by billiebee at 6:05 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


Guys, I have bad news. The new voice of Clarence is Dov Charney.
posted by basicchannel at 6:07 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


So while the Cartoon Brew link is the most thorough roundup of this story, it's absolutely worth noting that Emily Partridge disliked her photo being used on it and Cartoon Brew (or Amid Amidi) basically told her "but that's just how it's done! Get over it!" and cited Gawker as an example. Plus that ha ha joke at the end of the post ... and ugh. So yeah.

Yeah, he really hasn't been cool about the whole thing at all -- clearly hits are more important. I understand there's a balance between reporting news and being kind ... but well, he's decided "reporting news!" is more important. (Several friends who originally linked to that deleted it after all of this was pointed out.)

I am really glad Cartoon Network dealt with this. It's unfortunate it happened in the first place, but I'm glad it seemed to be dealt with pretty swiftly overall.

This situation was terrible but I have been heartened to see how many people have been "this is not cool at all" and genuinely want to make a good space for women. If there's anything good about the Cartoon Brew piece, I love what Lamar Abrams had to say (disclosure: I know Lamar and while I'm sad he left D.C., going to work on Steven Universe was the best excuse). We need more people to go "This is not something we want here and we are actively going to make this good for you."

(I don't know if these things are more common now, but I doubt it. I just think more people are speaking out. And I think that's great. I know it's tough for the people involved but the more people are vocal about it, the less it will be tolerated. We need to get rid of these people.)
posted by darksong at 6:16 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


I didn't realize that the use of her photo in the Cartoon Brew article was against Partridge's wishes. If the mods want, they can replace it with the link to the Mary Sue article in the body text -- that's a pretty good roundup. Not quite as thorough as Cartoon Brew, but pretty close.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 6:20 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


It's also been alleged by Patrick Harpin, the former Head of Story on Clarence that Page had little to do with the creation of Clarence, beyond the voice and deciding he wanted to do a show about a "fat, dumb kid".

Oh, gods, shut up Patrick. Don't make an assault into your soapbox about how you deserve credit.
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


No worries, Rev. Syung Myung Me. I really don't blame anyone to linking to that piece. And I have nothing at stake here, really. I just thought it was worth pointing out.
posted by darksong at 6:28 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


There’s been enough victims of Skyler Page, don’t punish the talented crew that actually raised Clarence.

Actually that's a totally reasonable context for such "credit taking" to occur under.
posted by effugas at 6:29 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


So while the Cartoon Brew link is the most thorough roundup of this story, it's absolutely worth noting that Emily Partridge disliked her photo being used on it and Cartoon Brew (or Amid Amidi) basically told her "but that's just how it's done! Get over it!" and cited Gawker as an example. Plus that ha ha joke at the end of the post ... and ugh. So yeah.

I was wondering why Partridge told people not to RT the Cartoon Brew article. Makes sense.
posted by chrominance at 6:36 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


i've talked to a lot of people about this. some people are saying "i thought everyone knew to stay away from him" but everyone doesn't know.

This is so common: one person in a group is a "known" creep or abuser, and the rest of the group relies on word of mouth to steer new people away from that person. We assume these hushed warnings are enough: people know to stay away from that person, confrontation is avoided, everyone's still included and no one's feelings get hurt - but it ends up protecting the guilty party, whether we're aware of it or not. Because there will always be someone who doesn't know yet, or doesn't believe the rumors, or gives them the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:51 PM on July 3 [11 favorites]


Oh, it's far more insidious than that - the deal is, if they call out a dude for being a Shit Heel, what if he denies it? What if his friends are better than your friends, and will speak up with verve and sarcasm while yours mumble and shuffle and stare down? What if they say you're the real abuser, you accuser-abuser? Hassle and drama, just, kind of, you know, let people know to steer clear if they're pretty? That will so totally fix it! High fives, all around.

Basic decency takes advanced courage. Props to CN for finally powering through it and unlocking the achievement.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:58 PM on July 3 [13 favorites]


Not to excuse his bad behavior, but according to one of Skyler's close friends, on the day of the incident he had a psychotic break and is currently in a hospital getting inpatient treatment for a form of bipolar I. This wasn't the first time he's had a problem, either.

The show is really good and down-to-earth, and I hope the creative team keeps on doing their good work, and I hope Skyler gets the help and support he needs.
posted by Small Dollar at 7:00 PM on July 3 [6 favorites]


Your honor, in defense of "Adventure Time as the Best TV", I present exhibit "A" - "A" for "Algebraic!" May I approach the bench for a fist-bump?

I love that even moreso than Dan Harmon, Pendleton Ward is just a totally awesome person you don't have to overthink liking to death at all.

At this point when i watch/listen to/read/play/generally appreciate pretty much anything and like it, in the back of my mind i'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop of the person making it to be an asshole, or them to have included some really troubling elements/jokes/whatever. Adventure time is just... good. And so is Mr. Ward.

It's refreshing, honestly.
posted by emptythought at 7:32 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


But the apparant previous stance of: he's dangerous so people knew to stay away from him, as opposed to he's dangerous let's get rid of him? Wtf?

Shameless selflinking here, but i've posted about this phenomenon in the past. It's a chillingly common "solution". This is the post that coined the term "missing stair", but yea. Basically people just act like it's an inherent, immutable part of the environment that people should just be warned about and work around, rather than you know repairing it. It's pretty infuriating.

There's tons of stupid rationalizations people come up with for it, but at least it seems like the currents are shifting now, and people are starting to just actually take the bullets out of the gun rather than warn everyone to put on bulletproof vests. At least sometimes, but hey, sometimes is better than it just always being "work around it".
posted by emptythought at 7:43 PM on July 3 [13 favorites]


"Dudes should live in fear of treating women like shit"

I want a tshirt that says this. I would wear it every goddamn fucking day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:59 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


according to one of Skyler's close friends, on the day of the incident he had a psychotic break and is currently in a hospital getting inpatient treatment for a form of bipolar I.

If this is true, and based on the post I can't help but assume that it is, then I do feel for Skyler and the entire situation, but also for Emily Partridge even more. I'm glad he was fired, and so glad that Cartoon Network did the right thing, and glad that everyone seems to be supporting Emily Partridge.

Mental illness can affect a person and make them erratic, or the person can already be a creep and an abuser, or a person's creepy tendencies can be doubly amplified by mental illness. No matter. None of this changes Emily's response and rights and the support we should give her. No aspect of this should be phrased as "well, he was ill, oh they're just sick", as Emily herself mentions in her tweets; none of this should trivialize her experience or ask of her to 'understand' or 'forgive' or any of these things.

So - having said that, hopefully making myself clear, I want to talk about my friend and former housemate, Fred. I'm actually not particularly responding against anyone in this thread, just talking out loud and sharing.

Once I had a friend and housemate, whom I'll call Fred, suddenly undergo a similar episode that we thought as schizophrenia. Later, he was diagnosed with bipolar I, and that he had a manic episode, like Skyler. Like Skyler, he was in his early/mid 20s, which is when these episodes are most likely to happen. During his episode, Fred told us that he himself made (directed, edited) many blockmuster movies -- Titanic, Avatar, among others. He thought the arrangements of books on his shelf was a pattern, a secret message, and spent hours carefully examining them. He told my housemate that Fred himself was me. He would say strange, erratic things. One of my housemates woke up in the middle of the night to him curiously browsing through my (male) housemate's dresser drawers in the middle of the night. It wasn't in a malicious way, but in a curious, careful way -- but still very scary. In the end, we quickly figured something was off and got Fred the professional help he needed at a mental health hospital. After a week he was discharged, and moved back with his parents, is now taking medication and doing regular therapy and trying to deal long-term with his situation.

Outside of his episode, Fred is one of the most gentle, friendly, nice, and intelligent people I know. But his episode was one of the most sad and frightening things I've ever witnessed; like what his friend says, he was most certainly "not home". He was curious and talkative as usual but his eyes were uncannily wide, and just a little too bright. All of us living together were trying to figure out what was going on with our friend and housemate, but we also were wary, since that we thought/knew that we weren't dealing with Fred. We weren't not dealing with him, either. We were dealing with a combination of Fred + mental illness, who was saying outlandish, impossible, and horrifying things.

This was was sad and heartbreaking and horrifying, and at the time I felt a kind of total fear because I had no idea what Fred would do. To be brutally honest with myself, if he had stabbed my housemate with a pair of scissors that night, I don't know if I would have been surprised. I was considering the possibility. At the same time, I care about Fred and was horrified with myself with even considering the possibility that I wouldn't have been surprised. I was both worried about Fred, scared about Fred, and horrified with myself for being scared of Fred.

So.

Right now I'm thinking - if Fred did have another episode and let's say he did something horrible, like stabbed someone (non-lethally) on the street -- what would I do?

I would not say, "oh, Fred's having an episode, please understand." Fred's actions affect people in very real ways. I'd have to understand that excusing Fred's behavior would essentially be enabling him to possibly harm others. At the same time, I wouldn't want him to go to jail, at least at first; I'd want him to go to a mental health facility first. From the stabbed person's point of view, Fred would be a violent person, yes. I'd want Fred's issues to be worked out so that a) he doesn't harm others, and b) he's in a mental space where he can start to handle his own issues and go back to the 'normal Fred'. I'd be apologizing for Fred left and right, but not as an excuse for his actions. I'd even be more understanding how traumatizing it might have been for the stabbed person, since Fred might have been especially terrifying during his episode. During this entire ordeal, I'd be thinking that Fred is 'not quite himself', and would be hoping that mental health care and medication would be able to help Fred back. And when that does happen, I would want to make sure that he goes through the necessary process to not be violent anymore, instead of assuming that the violence was entirely a mental illness-induced temporary state.

So, back to this incident. I love the way in which it seems like the internet has been supportive of Emily Partridge. I feel like this definitely wouldn't have been the case five years ago -- or even a year ago. I feel like things have changed, which is really exciting and heartwarming.

I wonder if there's a way we can start to deal with these scenarios without dealing out blame and punishment alongside support, as if it were the flip sides of a coin where one side is the victim, and the other side is the perpetrator. Nor do I want to say something like "there are only victims here today", only because it seems like that's previously been the language to demean and/or lessen the attention onto those who have been incredibly hurt by others. In this instance, where Skyler's mental illness seems part

People have problems, and sometimes those people with problems hurt other people. Often times our response is to want to transfer that 'hurt' back onto the person with a problem, in the form of blame, punishment, incarceration. But hurt is not like money, where if you give it to someone else, you lose it yourself.

Hurt is not a currency, and it is not a zero-sum game. Hurt can be made from nothing, and can be made to grow and grow. In that light, the idea of transferring 'hurt' by this idea that "someone has to be punished" doesn't make sense. Nor does it make sense to think that "someone wasn't punished, so the hurt person isn't healed yet" What does make sense here is to facing the troubled person head on and trying to fix those problems.

So - Emily Partridge was assaulted by Skyler Page, and that's clear. It's clear to me that CN did the right thing, and that we should support her. It sounds like Skyler Page is mentally ill, may very possibly be an abuser/creep irregardless of his mental illness, and thus has problems. It's clear that he is the single reason why she is assaulted. She should not have to 'understand' Skyler's situation, or change her behavior as a result. Nobody should be saying "oh, everyone should just know to avoid him", because it enables him possibly hurting someone. Nobody should be saying, "oh, a cartoon was ruined because she complained." All of the above, full stop, no "BUT...."s.

As for Skyler, I hope he gets treated; I hope for his sake that he gets better, and that he deals with many issues. I hope it's possible for him also get the support that he deserves, as a human being. This doesn't mean that he is without responsibilities and without sovereignty and without agency; it just means I hope we can treat him as a problem without a sense of retribution. I'm aware that this might feel like I'm focusing on the male aggressor and his rehabilitation in a way that takes away attention from Emily and her outspoken voice. But I don't think this is exactly doing that.

Perhaps what I'm saying is: I hope we can somehow look at the problem squarely in the face and say, "Skyler Page is a problem. Emily Partridge is not. This was entirely his doing, and the mental illness' doing. She was hurt. He has a serious problem. How can we help him? How can we support her? "
posted by suedehead at 9:25 PM on July 3 [22 favorites]


according to one of Skyler's close friends, on the day of the incident he had a psychotic break and is currently in a hospital getting inpatient treatment for a form of bipolar I.

Psychotic breaks and bipolar disease (whether I, II, or NOS), are not the same thing. Please remember that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:28 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


Great job, Cartoon Network!

Maybe, now that you've taken care of all that, you could work on seriously targeting girls (and women) as an audience?

Because I am sitting here just waiting to cheer you on if and when you do.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:36 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


[crosses fingers hoping for Adventure Time with Cake & Fiona as a spin-off for basically twice as much Adventure Time]
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:48 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


I find it baffling that CN passed on Bee & Puppycat. At least we got Steven Universe! It's weird to me that Steven Universe is only the first CN show created by a woman. Like, you'd think it would have happened before 2013, y'know?

(also: I do not mean that that Bee should replace Steven... I adore both shows, and they should have been a big ol' power block with AT and Regular Show. And, y'know what, Gumball too.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:54 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


The thing that disturbs me is the message that people "knew" that women shouldn't be alone with the guy. In any work setting, how is that acceptable?

Years ago, say the late 90s, early aughts, I worked with a guy who was the creepy dude/serial harasser. It was a serious boys club there (when I started, people often had porn on there screens at work.) harasser guy always said he'd get fired for harassment, and made a point of pushing the line as far as he could. I was young and trying to be a "cool chick" and not be bothered by it. So everyone knew that was just creeper dude, which actually allowed him more latitude, as if admitting he was a perve-y jerk somehow made it okay.

He eventually became my boss, and said something really inappropriate. When we were coworkers on the same level, it was gross but tolerable. But once he became my boss, it was just uncomfortable and demeaning in a whole new way. I stewed on it the whole day, and eventually contacted HR.

They forced him to resign with a nice fat severence (or so was the rumor) but refused to call it harassment because I didn't confront him first... I understand that has some merit in cases where the line is blurry, but this guy always ALWAYS pushed things to far and got the broken stair treatment.

And the worst part? Some people, heck many people, thought I did something wrong because "oh, that's just creeper dude." It was really fucked up.

I'm glad that Cartoon Network did something about it, but walking around the broken stair is just going to end up with someone hurt. Every time.

(And as an addendum to that story, I was laid off 6 months later with 4 or 5 other people. While it wasn't so simple as straight up retaliation, it was pretty clear that it contributed to shuffling the chess pieces and a good opportunity to get rid of a "trouble maker" at the same time. God, I wish I had sued. I just wanted it behind me, but looking back, the people handling it were cowards and down played the incident as much as possible to make it seem like it was my fault for not saying something sooner, even though every single harassment course we had to endure, he proclaimed himself a harasser and generally made the presenters life hell.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:40 PM on July 3 [9 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "according to one of Skyler's close friends, on the day of the incident he had a psychotic break and is currently in a hospital getting inpatient treatment for a form of bipolar I.

Psychotic breaks and bipolar disease (whether I, II, or NOS), are not the same thing. Please remember that.
"
-----------------

They are not the same thing, but bipolar I can have a psychotic break:
"Psychotic symptoms may also be seen in[18]

schizotypal disorder
certain personality disorders at times of stress (including paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder)
major depressive disorder in its severe form although it is possible and more likely to have severe depression without psychosis
bipolar disorder in severe mania and/or severe depression although it is possible to have severe mania and/or severe depression without psychosis as well, in fact that is more commonly the case
post-traumatic stress disorder
induced delusional disorder
Sometimes in obsessive-compulsive disorder"
I know this personally because a friend of mine was diagnosed as bipolar many years ago and they have had many episodes and hospitalizations since then. I know that at least some of those times involved very clear "breaks from reality" (animals talking to them, believing they were psychic and could read the minds of people around them, that they were communicating mentally with their friends from far away, etc...)

They have pondered whether they have Schizoaffective Disorder and may have been misdiagnosed in the past (it is true that diagnosis can be difficult at times), but I don't think there is any question that severe mania can truly lead to psychotic breaks.

That being said, having bipolar does not mean that you are always psychotic, nor does it mean that all episodes of mania induce psychosis. You can have mania without psychosis. Anyways, I think that's a bit of a derail from the main thrust of the post.

I think by taking a firm stance, and not trying to excuse his actions with mental illness, CN did the right thing, and it's heartening to see that. Even if, as mentioned upthread, it may be that this was something that pushed them to do it, while they hemmed and hawed behind the scenes -- we do not know, for sure, but compared to the tech industry, this is a nice contrast for once.
posted by symbioid at 10:52 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


The thing that disturbs me is the message that people "knew" that women shouldn't be alone with the guy. In any work setting, how is that acceptable? Maybe I'm misreading it, but if there's a guy in any setting that you are warned not to be left alone with, wouldn't you immediately, as a very public company, demand that some sort of investigation happen, before a PR disaster like this happens, at the very least?

It is called risk assessment: if your abuser is bringing in the bacon, sweep the abused underlings under the rug because they are not as financially viable, but should the abuser's star fade or start to be a drain on resources, cut him.

What gets me is people seem perpetually surprised at all of this -- except the predators who will steal, lie and backstab their way into these coveted positions so they at least *appear* indispensable and thus are free to terrorize for as long as they can...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:15 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


They are not the same thing, but bipolar I can have a psychotic break

They can, generally when in a manic phase, but the one isn't a guarantee of the other and it's important to be careful when talking about mental illness, no? /derail
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:17 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


They can, generally when in a manic phase, but the one isn't a guarantee of the other and it's important to be careful when talking about mental illness, no? /derail

True, but then again, this is an individual who could pull himself together enough to find a coveted position most people can only dream about and from what has been implied, while he did certain odd behaviours in public, he did not harass others out in the open, but in private, which says a lot about the state of his thought processes...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:35 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Most BiI people have no difficulty 'pulling themselves together' when medicated (no idea if he was or not).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:44 AM on July 4


according to one of Skyler's close friends, on the day of the incident he had a psychotic break and is currently in a hospital getting inpatient treatment for a form of bipolar I.

While it's a bad situation all the way around CN has an absolute obligation to protect its employees in the workplace. I wonder if he will try to litigate this under the ADA or something.
posted by MikeMc at 7:16 AM on July 4


Most BiI people have no difficulty 'pulling themselves together' when medicated (no idea if he was or not).

The way the tea leaves have been positioned, it is implied that he was not or not sufficiently so, but it does not excuse his behaviour in any way. Either way, those in charge of the workplace have a lot of explaining -- not spinning -- to do.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:21 AM on July 4


I wonder if he will try to litigate this under the ADA or something.

Wouldn't he have to prove that reasonable accommodation for his condition was sought but not provided? Summary dismissal for cause would not be protected under the ADA, as I understand it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:05 AM on July 4


Wouldn't he have to prove that reasonable accommodation for his condition was sought but not provided?

Not to litigate, but probably to get anywhere with that litigation...

(the courts seem to use a "misconduct is not in itself a disability" approach, and e.g. requiring others to tolerate misconduct isn't reasonable accommodation...)
posted by effbot at 10:02 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


Speaking of this specific issue, I really love how Ice King in handled on Adventure Time. I mean, I think it's problematic, I'm not saying how the chracters handle him is "right" however what do you do when a person is so broken they are a danger to people around them, but yet they so pathetically still want attention and love? (Along with a bunch of other creepy fucked up desires they want to carry out on others).

And yet too often, people like this HAVE been broken, they really are tragically fucked up as shit and they have been totally different people at other times in their lives than when they are horrifically abusive assholes. My abusive ex called me the other day crying, he has been using drugs again, and cheated on his wife, and wanted me to know I'm right about everything and I'm so wonderful and thanks for everything I've ever done for him "sob sob sob".

Why didn't I hang up? Because I STILL CARE about this dude. I want to pick him up and take him home and give him therapy and make him exercise and stay off drugs and feed him healthy food and help him work through his unspeakably tragic fucked up life. And because I have no doubt that his care is genuine. His abuse is also a part of him, there is nothing to excuse it, however.... it's hard to know whether he's even in control of himself at all. I have no character judgement of him since I have no way to know what amount of will went into the abusive things he compulsively did and maybe does. That's not something I can know.

This guy is my daughters father and she is LIKE HIM. She has met him on a handful of times very briefly at that and yet, she BEHAVES like him.

Watching how this transpires, how children can duplicate coping mechanisms that matched their parents life experiences in adopted children (and most people in my family were adopted as infants so I have a LOT of case studies to find out what was going on in the parents lives and the externalizing behaviors and thought processes of their adopted out at birth children. I think that humans as a species actually adapt to and work through life experiences over multiple generations, adapting to new environmental variables, cultural variables and experiences through multiple methods of genetic intelligence and verbal and cognitive understandings about those variables and how to handle them at the cellular level and at the inter-personal level.

The idea that all criminal behavior is part of mental illness or disease could be true but where does it get us? Some times there are cultural pressures feeding this "disease" like for example NOT holding people accountable for their behavior and thus feeding all kinds of creepy abusive behavior without asking people to keep it in check and face consequences if they don't. People get all kinds of intrusive thoughts, and in general women tend to internalize these and men tend to externalize those of these but there may literally be some biological predispositions that having male hormones and brain structures as opposed to female actually does cause more difficulties with having ideas about sexually abusing or harming people even outside of cultural pressures. Maybe men aren't JUST trained to do this but actually do have to grapple with these urges more than women (maybe not maybe it's all cultural but it wouldn't suprise if there may be some of both.)

I think there are people who are totally innocent despite all the terrible things they have done. "They know not what they do" no kidding.

So, while there's a lot of people walking around unable to control their behavior, and unable to stop themselves from harming to various degrees and in specific ways they can get away with it-- where does that leave those of us who have cultivated a belief in treating others well and actually uphold such standards? What do we DO with these scary people who can't control themselves? Especially given that a lot of us, when they are actually people we know.. actually DO care about them, and don't even want them to be sent to jail to rot, we just want to make sure people are safe and that DOES mean removing freedom and social status from some people, and it does mean REMEMBERING past harms like this and even when we restore some freedoms to people who have done things like this, refraining from giving them the same level of power and benefit of the doubt they were before. Refraining from giving them positions of power over others.

But how you do this in practice is SO HARD. Other than avoiding them entirely, how do you integrate people like this? And many people WILL want them integrated so how can we do that safely for people who are vulnerable?

The marceline Ice King song reminds me of what it felt like with the abusive guy I would up with in highschool, when no one else in my family or peers was there for me. I'm still glad he cared about me. Sometimes I think "Well at least someone once truly loved me."

I didn't want to be having sex with him, but I needed him, and he was not in control of himself (or was but was being abusive). I have so many people unravel and do horrible things and have horrible lapses of sanity that leaves everyone around them in danger.

And while, I can't fix it, I WANT TO, I want to fix all of it, all I can do is try to understand the variables that break people like this and try to build a better future, where fewer people are broken by abuse and neglect, by unhealthy environmental variables and all the other things research tells us impacts health that we don't apply to policies and supports to help ensure people can live healthy lives and raise their children in healthy ways.

People can be unfortunately both wonderful and terrible, genuinely kind and capable of monstrous things. It's such a terrifying thing to see in the world and to figure out how to handle as individuals and in group settings where a lot of really GREAT principles about inclusivity and love and forgiveness can suddenly turn into all the wrong techniques to handle people like this, and yet because really cutting people out is so hard, it's going to take a lot to get people to do a better job of it, and I do think having compassionate resources available for those who do have to face being cut off from the same level of participation will make it easier for people to report abusers and hold them accountable even if it is totally because of a mental illness. And sometimes abusers don't seem to have a "mental illness" although their desire to harm others itself could be called a pathology, but it seems more to be a choice. And such people STILL can love some people or be great in groups and it's hard to cut them off.

I am so heartened to hear that CN handled this so well, that the people involved are doing the right things. It literally warms my heart and makes me hope we could see some amazing progress in the world. I really do believe we can do this better. But it DOES take courage sometimes, to do the basic tasks of being a good person. It can be indescribably painful and scary and risky, and leave you feeling unsettled and terrible because you actively caused "harm" to an abuser by calling them out rather than doing nothing but feeling less responsible for the harms that happened (even if the harms were worse).
posted by xarnop at 12:18 PM on July 4 [16 favorites]




I really wish that update could be pinned to the FPP with an edit(which i'm aware rarely happens here without the OP asking the mods, but i'm being idealistic), and put at the top of the page basically everywhere this is being discussed right now.

Something always deeply bugs me when these sorts of situations snowball down a hill to the point that the original person the bad thing occurred to is completely on the sidelines of the conversation and their voice has been constructively silenced. It's a bit of an internet hate machine/pitchfork and torch mob thing. And those are never a pure force of good.
posted by emptythought at 8:27 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


As the OP, I'd love it if the Emily Partridge post were added to the FPP, though I'm not sure if this one's run its course or not.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:54 AM on July 5


[We really basically never add actual additional content to a post after the fact; the very rare intercessions are more for really weird "oh, actually the post is fundamentally incorrect in a super problematic way" situations than for "also, this is related and worth seeing".]
posted by cortex at 12:00 PM on July 5


[Fair enough! All y'all know best!]
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 12:11 PM on July 5


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