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Forgiveness And Redemption

I have recently become aware of a remarkable difference of opinion regarding the mechanics of being forgiven and regaining the trust of those whose trust has been violated. On the one hand are those who believe that the violator should directly engage with the violated in making amends and seeking forgiveness, and that the violated are obligated to provide a road map for making amends that–if successfully followed by the violator–absolutely guarantees redemption and the restoration of trust. On the other hand are those who believe that the violator should affirmatively eschew any engagement at all with the violated, and should attempt to demonstrate continuous ongoing new-found trustworthiness in venues that are completely dissociated from those in which the trust was violated.

A stated rationale for the former is that if violators are not given the incentive of guaranteed road maps for redemption, then they will neither admit to their violations nor attempt to make amends. A stated rationale for the latter is that the very act of engagement with the violated driven by the goal of redemption is itself a sign of untrustworthiness and another betrayal of trust.

I have been through this shitte in my birth family, and I have seen with my own eyes folly of the former view and the truth of the latter. Key to demonstrating true contrition is making the following clear to those who have been wronged: (1) I respect your right to have no dealings with me, now or ever; (2) my efforts at making amends are driven not by my selfish interest in regaining the rights, privileges, and power I have lost as a consequence of my violations of trust; (3) I embrace the fact that no matter what I do, trust may never be restored, yet I still make amends and demonstrate my trustworthiness on an ongoing sustained basis.

These two different views of redemption are based on two different assumptions about the relative importance of the interests of the violator and the violated. Underlying the former view is the assumption that the loss of rights, privileges, and power by the violator is more important than the restoration of safety and autonomy to the violated. Underlying the latter view is that the safety and autonomy of the violated is paramount and must be respected by third parties–and, centrally, by the violator–regardless of the consequences to the rights, privileges, and power of the violator.

Violators need to make amends because they recognize it is the right thing to do, not so that they can get their cookies back, and it needs to be transparent to the violated that this is what is motivating the violators actions. Like I said, I’ve seen this all play out in my own family, and this is the only way to actually restore trust. Of course, if the goal is really just to regain lost rights, privileges, and power, then other tactics might be perceived as tenable.

Comments

  1. Trebuchet says

    Excellent post! You’ve given me a very pleasant surprise this morning.

    I’m fortunate enough not to have personally been in such situations so can’t speak from experience, but it seems to me that it should be up to the violated to decide how it plays out. Certainly there can be no obligation for forgiveness as in the first view.

  2. wtfwhateverd00d says

    None of that has anything to do with Bora whose antagonists have made it clear they simply want him off twitter forever.

    ” I respect your right to have no dealings with me, now or ever;”

    So don’t follow the guy.

    “my efforts at making amends are driven not by my selfish interest in regaining the rights, privileges, and power I have lost as a consequence of my violations of trust; ”

    Amends? The offense is that he is on twitter. So now any grievance is met with demands for utter silence for all eternity.

    ” I embrace the fact that no matter what I do, trust may never be restored, yet I still make amends and demonstrate my trustworthiness on an ongoing sustained basis.”

    Hard to do when he’s lost his job and told to shut up on twitter and in blogland and in fact wasn’t it you who suggested he find a career in a different field altogether?

  3. nicoleandmaggie3 says

    He and his friends sure seem like bloviated assholes.

    Sorry doesn’t make abusing privilege like he did any better. That’s pretty cheap talk. Losing his job is pretty minimal punishment for the problems he’s caused for people more vulnerable than himself. Having people tell him to shut up on twitter and in blogland seems like a pretty false equivalence compared to his actions. If he can’t handle it, maybe he shouldn’t have sexually harassed all those women in the first place.

    The remarkable thing is that he and his asshole friends seem to think, “He said he was soooorrrrry, what’s your problem?” is an acceptable thing to say.

  4. Trebuchet says

    Regarding my post number 1: I (as usual) didn’t bother to read the link first! Doh!

    That said, I find that both Bora’s updated post and CPP’s responses were good. Some of Bora’s supporters, however….

  5. icearoni says

    Hell yes! I agree with this post so much that it makes me want to kick something. It’s especially harmful to the violated when people defend the violators. It can occasionally be worse than the original offenses. The defenders seem to not care that they are further injuring the violated when they do so. Fuck the violators and their defenders. They whine about their problems and how people just don’t understand them and how much they’re hurting inside. WHAT ABOUT HOW THE VIOLATED ARE HURTING!?!?!?

    Everyone has problems, and most people manage to go through life without engaging in reprehensible behavior that hurts others. Those people that hurt others and then use their personal issues as a defense can first fuck off, and then whine about their problems to their therapist or family. They selfishly fucked someone over, and they should suffer the consequences. No one in their professional or social circles is obligated to listen. Mind you, very few of them apologize because they’re genuinely sorry for hurting someone (they are usually only sorry for getting caught). That would require becoming less self-absorbed, which usually takes many years, a lot of mental work, and in reality rarely happens.

    If you have a friend who has been violated, and some tiny thing in your brain wants to defend the violator, please shut up and don’t say a damn thing to support the violator. You can wonder about it in your own brain. Yes, that person you like almost certainly did this totally shitty thing, and you need to face the facts. This is yet another way that violators inflict pain on the violated. They leave massive destruction in their wake, even in their absence, so that the violated have to deal with even more broken relationships. The violated person has to scratch yet more people off their list of people they can trust.

    Great post. This is pissing me off.

  6. Pitchguest says

    @nicoleandmaggie3

    “The remarkable thing is that he and his asshole friends seem to think, “He said he was soooorrrrry, what’s your problem?” is an acceptable thing to say.”

    Really? That seems to have worked with Ogvorbis, the regular at Pharyngula who’s also a confessed rapist.

  7. Nicoleandmaggie3 says

    @pitchguest He and his friends sounds like worse than assholes then. I fail to see why that is pertinent. Other people behave badly so that makes behaving badly ok? No, it doesn’t. Seems like exactly the point I was making.

  8. Stacy says

    @Nicoleandmaggie3, when he was an abused child, Ogvorbis abused a couple of younger children. By touching them. When he was a child. A child being abused by an adult.

    Ogvorbis shared this on a comment thread last year, and expressed his deep regret. Ever since, certain assholes bring it up whenever they can.

    Pitchguest is playing “gotcha.” Ignore him.

  9. Stacy says

    Amends? The offense is that he is on twitter.

    Nope.

    So now any grievance is met with demands for utter silence for all eternity.

    Nope.

  10. Al Dente says

    Pitguess @6

    I’m impressed. You hate FTB so much that no lie is too despicable for you to utter. You must be really proud of yourself that you’ll accuse someone of vile crimes just so you can show your hatred for them.

  11. Pitchguest says

    @Stacy

    Playing ‘gotcha’? Maybe. But you’re definitely playing rape apologist. He *had* been abused. Past tense. When he *chose* to rape three girls, one of which was already being violated by the other two girls, he did it voluntarily. He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway. It doesn’t matter if he was twelve or twenty. The only difference age makes in that case if he was viable for serious jailtime.

    Stop trying to make him out as he was some unwilling victim. He wasn’t. He’s a confessed rapist, admitted it himself (although the ‘recovered memory’ aspect makes it suspect), and you’re defending him. Worse, you are justifying it. If I wanted to play ‘gotcha’, I’d have tried to catch you in a lie or something. Here I just need to quote you. Word for word.

    And so what if expressed his deepest regret? Physioprof above, and Chris Clarke, made it very clear on Bora’s blog that it doesn’t matter if he expresses regret or not, and correct me if I’m wrong but at least Bora didn’t rape anybody. So why should Ogvorbis be exempt from this process but not Bora? Seems awfully biased if you ask me.

    @Al Dente

    If quoting someone’s own words is ‘accusing someone of vile crimes’, then: guilty.

    At least I’m not protecting a rapist, eh?

  12. Pitchguest says

    @Al Dente

    Also, in addition, I happened to read what you said about Bora on Dana Hunter’s blog.

    This paragraph juxtaposed with your reaction towards Ogvorbis’ seedy past is… umm… disconcerting.

    I read Bora’s original January 1st blog post where he mentioned, almost in passing, that he’d left SciAm. It was the second thing he mentioned as happening in October, after talking about going to Budapest but not writing about his visit. That set off alarm bells because I knew why he was forced to resign from SciAm (and ScienceOnline). Bora obviously thought our collective memories were so short we couldn’t remember he was a sexual harasser.

    After it became obvious that people did remember why Bora was so toxic that SciAm and SciO forced him out, he made his oh by the way I did screw up, didn’t I? addendum. He wants to go back to the way it was before his behavior was exposed.

    Your collective memories not short for Bora, but short enough for Ogvorbis? Enough to forget he was a rapist?

    Or I’m sorry, is it we that should forget? It seems you people react very violenty whenever we bring it up.

    Anyway, Bora’s a sexual harasser. That means he should be shunned. Ogvorbis is a rapist and that means he can babysit our children. Wait, what?

  13. johngreg says

    Al Dente said:

    Pitguess (sic) @6 I’m impressed. You hate FTB so much that no lie is too despicable for you to utter. You must be really proud of yourself that you’ll accuse someone of vile crimes just so you can show your hatred for them.

    Hey, Dente, since when is quoting someone verbatim a lie?

    Ogvorbis said:

    I didn’t stop before raping three young girls (all were, give or take, the same age as ‘S’, the girl I was forced to abuse while a scout). I was older. The age difference was even greater. I knew it was wrong even as I joined in and I still did because it may be wrong but its what I was used to.

    (My emphasis.)

    Ogvorbis’s words. You get that Dente? His words.

    There is a lot of implied horsehit in that paragraph. For example: The first issue is Ogvorbis’s tacit implication that he is/was not guilty/responsible for his actions — “its what I was used to” — which is bullshit anyway. Victims of abuse do not always, do not even frequently become abusers because they were abused. In fact, it is a fairly rare phenomenon. Also, and this is critical, he states, unequivocally, that he was aware, you see that Dente, he was aware that it was wrong. But he did it anyway.

    And it goes on. All of Ogvorbis’s self-scourging is designed to achieve what he did in fact succeed in achieving: hugs and the blessings from his rape-apologist pals at Pharyngula. His entire series of confessions is based upon a litany of fallacies: recovered memory; lack of responsibility for actions due to past abuse; self-scourging as soul-cleansing; the devil made him do it, and so on. And his victims have, throughout his chain of obscene confession, been ignored; utterly ignored so that the Pharyngulates can wallow in their chthonic glee at absolving the pentitent of his crimes, that’s right folks, crimes of rape so as to clear their own guilty consciences of who knows what sort of vile behaviours they themselves performed in the past.

    The confessional booth in the church of Pharyngulates. Lord PeeZus; what have you wrought? Amazing, simply amazing blatant hypocrisy.

  14. abear says

    I’m not making excuses for His behavior, Zivkovic deserved to be fired.
    He likely will never get a job where he potentially has power over another person’s career. He was publicly humiliated, had disgraceful conduct on his part shown to many thousands of people besides his friends, former friends, and family.
    The call from the blogging community seems that he should banned and shunned, he hasn’t been punished enough/could never be punished enough, he hasn’t apologized to his victims/how dare he try to apologize to his victims, it hasn’t been long enough/can never be long enough.
    I’d like to ask his critics what you expect him to do. If he can’t write his own blog what do you expect him to do?
    What would make you happy?

  15. Steersman says

    abear said (#14):

    I’d like to ask his critics what you expect him to do. If he can’t write his own blog what do you expect him to do? What would make you happy?

    Indeed. While Bora certainly seems to have crossed a line, it also seems that many of the howling monkeys in FftB-land and their fellow travelers won’t be happy unless he commits seppuku – preferrably on the doorstep of the offices of Secular Woman. Real classy – certainly not FftB-land’s finest hour.

    And while that might, at least if it were a one-off, simply be chalked up to some unfortunate “over-exuberance”, that it happens with monontonous regularity – EllenBeth Wachs, Chris Clarke, Julian, and Don Kane being cases in point – suggests a systemic problem or cause. Since people are talking of redemption – and with an Old Testament flavour – some might want to reflect on the New Testament parable of motes and eyes.

  16. abear says

    a little OT but:
    I just made some fucken excellente supper tonight, but I still think something maybe missing
    sauteed red sweet peppers and white onion
    steamed basmati rice and long green bean
    baked Sablefish
    juice/oil from sablefish poured over top and some feta cheese crumbled and blended into the dish.

    I’m open to constructive criticism only. If you are unkind to me I will run you off the internet!

  17. Rat Bastard says

    I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the hypocritical thinking shown by many commenters here at FTB. When Ogvorbis, one of your own, admits to knowingly, willingly, committing multiple rapes against children, the commentariat goes into full rape apology mode. It sickens me that any human being would offer to let an admitted child rapist babysit their kids. Now that…..that is child abuse in and of itself. And yet, when Bora, whose crime was….(being creepy? inappropriate comments in response to inappropriate comments?), admits his wrongs, apologizes, and tries to get on with his life, the calls go that he should be metaphorically driven into the wilderness with no way to support himself. When Mr. Deity says it’s easy (and the responsible thing to do) to monitor one’s drinking, all you hear are cries of “rape apologist,” and “behold, an asshole.” What does one have to do to get some sympathy around here? Molest a child? After all, it worked for Ogvorbis.

  18. says

    @Comradde PhysioProffe, the pitters are shitting all over your blog to libel some random commenter on Pharyngula. Such is the level of their pathetic obsession with all things FTB and trying to score some points they use his description of being abused as a child to hurt him and by extension they think the network. All they really do is show what utter shits they all are.

  19. bam294 says

    Great post CPP.
    I had been mulling over what ‘sorry’ means. I tell my kids its the act of apologizing is restating what you have done to acknowledge your poor behavior, apologize with sincerity and ask what IF ANYTHING you can do to make it better. In the case of Bora, I would argue that while not all of these are something that should occur publically, especially putting people in a position of how to ‘road map’ amends – well put CPP – the full accounting of wrongs should. Its how our justice system works. Its how peace was obtained in South Africa following generations of oppression and it ends speculation about if there is more to come.
    Indeed, the ongoing manipulation of individuals with popular blogs to act on Bora’s behalf and discredit accusers and chasten those who are outraged is deeply disturbing.
    These acts have not been acknowledged by Bora or his lackeys who have now gone so far as to have taken the Karen James #ripplesofdoubt hashtag and made it into a Twitter account and WordPress site. These venues are used simply to vilify those who are outraged by Bora’s actions and those of defenders. Failure to acknowledge these wrongs is, in my opinion, suggests that the resurfacing of Bora is more about Bora (as evidenced by his first tone deaf blog this year) and less about being sorry and having learned something about how his actions have impacted others.

  20. b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

    Late to the party (obviously!), but FYI, the link is now not viewable. The blog has been marked “Private” and your WordPress sign-in has to be on a white-list in order to read it.

  21. spectator says

    @22

    “Late to the party (obviously!), but FYI, the link is now not viewable. The blog has been marked “Private” and your WordPress sign-in has to be on a white-list in order to read it.

    Amazing how much this crowd gets off on the power trip of excluding people and making sure they are aware that they’ve been officially excluded.

    Banning people for the ideas they dared to express in the comments got stale once there wasn’t anyone but a poor noob who was duped by the common misperception that “freethought” means freedom to think. Or even worse when they assume it means freedom to ask questions. “Atheists online pride themselves on asking those tough questions, providing sound arguments, especially if they believe their disbelief was the conclusion of properly applied skepticism. Here on FTB, skepticism of the FTB ideology (started with skepticism of Elevatorgate as brought to you via Rebecca Watson) is the act of only an immoral piece of scum could possibly entertain. The ritual leading up to banning allows each FTBully their own turn (often some people take a 2nd or 3rd turn) to wish physical harm on the befuddled victim. The entire conversation is directed towards taking down the evil ideas expressed in their midst. Once they’ve raged themselves to exhaustion and move towards boredom a monitor will alert PZ to come put the poor sole out of his misery.
    It’s not very pretty anymore.
    Next up! The BlockBot. This crowd is so addicted to the powerful rush of excluding people as unworthy. People like myself who have made less than a dozen tweets ever, accidentally find out they’ve been added to the BlockBot. So it’s come down to searching other corners of the internet to find reason to exclude them. This upset people who never harassed anyone and weren’t even atheists (much less give a damn about atheism plus. We’ve tried to tell you a long time ago that atheism is a religion.
    So now FTB and/or Atheism plus have compiled a list to exclude even more people? And like the BlockBot, we’ve been blissfully unaware until, wow! An FTBlogger links you to an article that instead of reading what this post is in response to, Ha haa!!! You are not PRIVILEGED enough to be on the WHITE LIST !!!

    You didn’t learn a damn thing from the “Slaves Obey your Masters” billboard? If you can see misogyny everywhere, why not the outright racist, horrifically offensive utterly insensitive, and even TRIGGERING depictions of black Christians

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