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Jan 03 2014

Ouch.

Martin Robbins has a good guest post at Adventures in Ethics and Science on the Bora situation. I asked what is the path to redemption; he provides an answer. There isn’t one. If you’re looking for a way back to the previous situation, you won’t find it.

Because ultimately, getting your friends and your career back shouldn’t be the goal at all. The goal should be to fix yourself, and to do everything in your power to ensure that you never find yourself back here again. That means acknowledging everything that happened – not just the stuff people have found out about so far. It means accepting that there may be situations that you need to avoid in future. It means admitting just how bad things got, and beginning a process of real, honest change to make them better.

It isn’t easy, and it may not relaunch your career or win your friends back or repair your damaged reputation. It may mean sacrifice – changing career, moving cities, accepting that you’ll never regain certain friendships – but eventually you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you’ve grown and improved; that you’ve made genuine progress toward a better and healthier future; that you can be proud of your achievements in the months or years since you made the decision to change. 

17 comments

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  1. 1
    ChasCPeterson

    I thought Robbins’s post was dead on, top to bottom. Mr. Zivkovic’s online behavior the past few days has been baffling, and his buddy Zuiker’s paean was gag-inducingly self-serving (not to mention pretentiously logorrheic).
    Then I went back to read the comments at Zivkovic’s blog. That dude Gurdur is without doubt the most clueless clown on the internet.

  2. 2
    left0ver1under

    If you’re looking for a way back to the previous situation, you won’t find it.

    My first rule of dealing with my mistakes is, don’t make things worse. It’s better to say nothing (and be accused of avoiding the discussion) than to give an “explanation” that only inflames tensions.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Zvan

    Gurdur is not clueless.

  4. 4
    screechymonkey

    I had never heard of Bora before this thing, but my impression of him at the moment is of someone who has done pretty much the bare minimum in response to these revelations. Unlike some, he didn’t dig the hole deeper by calling his accusers liars, and has admitted to wrongdoing, but only begrudgingly and to the smallest extent possible.

    One woman tells her story, and the response is “I behaved badly with that one person, but it’s never happened before or since.”

    Then others come forward, and it’s “Oh, uh, yeah, I behaved badly with other people, too. I’m really really sorry.”

    Then he waits for pretty much the shortest period of time he thought he could get away with before coming back all “Hi, everybody!”

    When this doesn’t go over well, he tacks on the barest of apologies, claims he was ducking the subject out of consideration for his victims, and has the nerve to put the burden on them to tell him what hoops he needs to jump through to get his redemption cookie.

    And throughout, it does not appear that he has ever told his victim-blaming “supporters” to knock it the fuck off.

    Frankly, I’m not big on the whole idea of “redemption” to begin with. At least, not in the sense some people seem to use it, that if you make the requisite apologies and behave well enough for a while, the slate is wiped clean and everyone agrees to pretend like you never did that bad thing.

  5. 5
    David Marjanović

    It’s better to say nothing (and be accused of avoiding the discussion) than to give an “explanation” that only inflames tensions.

    If I may ignore your scare quotes for a minute…

    No.

    Saying nothing will also inflame tensions, and it won’t allow any tensions to resolve. As detailed in comment 4, Živković has said as little as he thought was possible, and it got neither him nor his victims anywhere.

    Explanation, coming clean on everything, is the only hope.

    I hope his therapist is competent and teaches him to explain.

  6. 6
    ChasCPeterson

    If I may, for teh lurkers, context for S. Zvan’s #3.
    [My interpretation is that she feels Mr. Skellett aka Gurdur is maliciously disingenuous rather than clueless. I stipulate the possibility. She probably also doesn't think he's funny, so perhaps 'clown' is also in question.]

  7. 7
    Inaji

    Chas:

    That dude Gurdur is without doubt the most clueless clown on the internet.

    Oh, Gurdur’s not clueless, never has been. He likes playing that way, though. He is a compleat asshole, through and through, and ignites the temper of every person who has ever had to deal with him on a regular basis. I take it you weren’t on IIDB back in the day, eh?

  8. 8
    ChasCPeterson

    I take it you weren’t on IIDB back in the day, eh?

    nope.
    I only encountered Mr. Skellett in the wake of The Rebeccapocalypse, when he said many very stupid things.

  9. 9
    Inaji

    Chas:

    nope.
    I only encountered Mr. Skellett in the wake of The Rebeccapocalypse, when he said many very stupid things.

    Ah. Well, PZ is quite right when he notes that Gurdur’s presence heralds the imminent poisonous implosion of any forum in which he appears. Smart people running forums/DBs ban his ass the second he shows up.

  10. 10
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Re david:
    In [crude] rebuttal; isn’t the best advice, “when in a hole, stop digging”? Isn’t that the euphemistic way of saying, “Say nothing more.”? I think Bora dug himself into a hole, and the only advice for him was to stop digging. Which he kinda did, but switched to a smaller shovel instead of stopping outright. He headed in the correct direction, but not enough. Since I may be in my own hole, I’ll stop digging. Cheers.

  11. 11
    David Marjanović

    Isn’t that the euphemistic way of saying, “Say nothing more.”?

    Not quite. It’s “stop saying this shit, start thinking before you speak”.

    He headed in the correct direction, but not enough.

    On this I agree.

  12. 12
    Martin Robbins

    Re: David: “… Živković has said as little as he thought was possible, and it got neither him nor his victims anywhere. Explanation, coming clean on everything, is the only hope.”

    This is what bugs me the most about the whole thing. There’s been a pattern among Bora and his supporters of minimising or glossing over what he did. Supporters have suggested that there were only a couple of incidents, or described his actions as ‘inappropriate comments’, or similar (Zuiker’s post is almost Orwellian on this). Bora himself lied about the extent of his problem in his original apologies, then erased the incidents from his review of the year, then tried to isolate the three women involved from the rest of the community when he eventually posted an ‘apology’. He continues now to tweet away essentially as if nothing had happened, making only the barest possible concessions at each step, and praising the friends who write these history-altering bullshit narratives about him.

    I would have a lot more time for him if he:
    a) publicly called out people like Zuiker who were spinning false narratives about what he did;
    b) set out in brutally honest terms a proper admission of what he did;
    c) apologised sincerely for that,
    and d) explained the steps he is taking to ensure he is not in a position to ever do the same again.

    I’m not saying those things would magically change my opinion of the guy overnight, but they would at least show that he understood and accepted that he had a problem that needed dealing with.

  13. 13
    John Horstman

    I also think Robbins is spot-on. My response to recognizing I was behaving in coercive and otherwise shitty ways toward women was to immerse myself in feminist theory to the point of changing ungergrad majors to Women’s Studies and engage in pro-feminist activism locally and online. I don’t mean to suggest that everyone who recognizes problems with zir behavior needs to go to quite this extreme; people DO need to take concrete steps to change their thinking and concomitant behavior when it’s problematic if they have any desire to be better (and to be treated as something other than an unrepentant asshole). The entire point he needs to learn is that it’s not about him or what people think of him – if he actually does show himself to be acting with concern for the well-being of others consistently, his reputation may eventually recover, but that’s only possible once it ceases to be a concern, because as long as it’s a concern, he’s still acting out of self interest, not in the interests of others.

  14. 14
    John Horstman

    Also, it takes years, often decades, to intentionally resocialize oneself, especially in opposition to prevailing cultural norms, and especially in opposition to a structure as deeply and broadly embedded in our contemporary culture as patriarchy is. Even if one has an epiphany, changing the way one thinks and acts in every way related to that new perspective is a long, difficult process.

  15. 15
    David Marjanović

    This is what bugs me the most about the whole thing. There’s been a pattern among Bora and his supporters of minimising or glossing over what he did.

    Quite.

    Even if one has an epiphany, changing the way one thinks and acts in every way related to that new perspective is a long, difficult process.

    That, too.

  16. 16
    Travis

    I am very much in agreement with screechymonkey in #4. I was vaguely aware of Bora before all of this due to the blogs I follow but I did not know much about him, or really how deeply he seemed to influence some people. He was just a person I knew others were familiar with and liked, someone with some influence but not someone I personally had paid any particular attention to. When this happened I was mainly struck by how little he actually did. Silence for a long time, followed by a tepid response, then another tepid response when more people came forward and little else. Sure he made a few tweets but people that wanted to defend him just kept at it, telling everyone that we were only hearing part of the story, etc. The silence of SA and Bora was pretty deafening that weekend. If someone wants to make amends I expect to see some proactive behaviours and there was nothing then and as far as I can see, little now. Unless I missed something he just appears to have stepped away for a while and come back largely the same as before, just without his same position.

  17. 17
    ChasCPeterson

    more ouch
    and another view

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