I haven’t written much about anything that matters lately. I’m not saying that this is going to change or anything, but I’ve been waiting to talk about Leslie posting what happened between her and Ben. I didn’t write about it sooner, because I didn’t think that anyone this is directed at was willing to stop talking long enough to listen, and I didn’t think I had the right words in case they were.
I’m not saying that this has changed or anything. Still, I’m going to try.
If you’re not willing or able to consider someone else’s position on an issue — and I don’t mean tolerate their position, I mean consider, as in actually think about what it is they’re saying — you should skip to the next quiz posted on your friends list and go on with your day.
I’m not writing about what Ben did or didn’t do, or what Leslie should or shouldn’t have done at the time. This post isn’t about who’s lying, or what does and does not constitute a ‘bad person’, or anything at all that happened before Leslie wrote her post. If you want to have a discussion about that, we can do that, but that’s not what this is.
This is about how people have treated her for speaking out.
First, it amazes me that so many people immediately made this a partisan Us-vs-Them issue. Leslie didn’t post a tirade about how Ben is a horrible human being and you should never talk to him or go to his place and hey let’s get on with the lynching — in fact, she described him as someone who was trying to be a good person who had control issues. She didn’t once said anything shitty about him as a person, she only spoke negatively about his actions. She didn’t tell people they shouldn’t be his friend. She didn’t ask people not to go to his party. She didn’t suggest that he should be exiled from The Scene with a backpack, a shotgun and a horse – she didn’t even suggest that Eugene should take any action against him at this point.
Think I’m exaggerating? Go look. I’ll wait.
Even from a purely semantic point of view, this is as far away from confrontational and aggressive as you can get, especially given the subject matter. Regardless, people talk angrily about how Leslie is righteously issuing demands of people from her lofty ivory tower DJ booth, and who does she think she is telling people to abandon their friends?
Leslie wrote in her journal about something that happened to her. There was no line in the sand drawn, there was no call to arms. It was a journal entry. It was a description of events, not a suggestion of action.
We all know people do shitty things. It’s impossible to be a social creature and not come into contact with people who’ve hit their girlfriend, or date-raped somebody, or falsely accused somebody of rape. If you think you don’t know people who’ve done this, you just haven’t heard about it yet. Every single person in this society has a number of friends, good friends, who have done a number of cruel and damaging things. That’s natural. That’s to be expected. That’s humanity. I know this. Leslie knows this. The only action Leslie advocated was “help him”. Not ‘ignore him’ or ‘punch him’ or ‘hide your sister’, but “help him”.
This didn’t matter, of course. People wrote about how Leslie “wants us to be her cops, her judge and her jailer”, how she was “trying to force her individual will upon others”, and (I am not joking here) how we “have violated his rights as a citizen of Canada, guaranteed in the Constitution of Canada, in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”” and “under the UN Declaration of Human Rights”.
I know I’m calling out things people reading this have said, and I know how it’s hard to honestly consider your actions when they’re held up to the light by someone else, but the demonstrable fact of the matter is that no one bothered to actually evaluate what she said. If you strip out the friendships, the emotions, and the people involved — if you take the actual issue presented here, an journal entry someone wrote and how people have responded to that entry, it’s obvious that they’re responses to what they assume was said, not what actually was said. These responses are so off the mark that my mind boggles just thinking about it.
So, what happens next?
Next, Ben punches some guy in the face at Zaphods on a Tuesday, and the club kicks his ass out and bans him. Leslie and I are informed by the staff (as we always are under such circumstances) that a regular patron assaulted someone, and is not welcome back in the club. Neither of us knew someone had been in a fight, or that someone was kicked out. We are told these things (and who it was) by the bar after closing. When management asked about his aggressive behaviour, Leslie said that he had assaulted her, years back.
Leslie did not kick Ben out. She did not ban him. She did not invisibly guide his hand into someone else’s face. Like hundreds before him, Ben punched some dude at Zaphods and got turfed.
This didn’t matter to anyone. Now, people talk smugly about how this ban is proof that Leslie is waging social warfare, and about how they’re happy to be spending their money at the Dom instead, and how they’re all going Boycott Bowling on Tuesday.
Now, think about this for a minute. This is one of the parts where I’m asking you to stop reading, and actually consider what it is I’m about to say:
Ben punches someone at a nightclub and is banned. This ban is seen as validation that Leslie is in the wrong on the hotly-debated-Leslie-said-her-old-boyfriend-assaulted-her issue, and people proudly organize boycotts of her events and employer.
Now, I know Leslie has long been a person people love to hate — and anyone who would say otherwise hasn’t been paying attention for the last ten years — but think about this. Seriously.
You might think I’m an arrogant shithead, or that Leslie’s a drama-seeking bitch who schemes on a Machiavellian scale; and even if every horrible thing everyone thinks about us is actually the Gospel Truth, the individual and community reaction to this situation is obviously, overwhelmingly and unnecessarily antagonistic, combative, spiteful, and quite literally, unreasonable.
And it sickens me.
As I said, I know people do shitty things. People can get caught up in the moment of I CANT BELIEVE YOU SAID THAT ABOUT MY FRIEND GRAAA and be cold and vicious.
This isn’t a moment. This is three months later.
This is hate mail, cruel jokes, and abusive calls to Zaphods. This is people accosting and intimidating friends of ours at the Dom simply because they’re friends of ours.
This is people actively trying to shut down or starve an underground music night — an underground night which is one of the oldest in the world, and has helped artists (including their friends) achieve things they’ve wanted their whole lives — people trying to starve that underground music night… because they don’t like a promoter who has worked tirelessly every week for over ten years to support the genre they enjoy?
[Here’s a Jairus Protip™: Leslie has a standing invite to start a night (and we’re talkin weekends here, no Tuesday shit) in every major city I’ve ever traveled to with her, and a lot of cities I haven’t. She started the Retro 80s night at Barrymore’s. She can build a community, and she’s proven she can make a club money hand-over-fucking-fist. If the night here were to somehow fold due to boycotts or more forged emails to Eugene or whatever, she could have a gig the next day in Montreal, New York, or Leipzig. It’s Ottawa’s artists and audience that would be left trying to rebuild in a vacuum, not Leslie.]
You can hate me and Leslie and say bad things about us to your friends for the rest of your life and that’s fine — but you’re one empty motherfucker if you’re selfish enough to try and fuck over everything that’s been built here over the last decade (not just by Leslie, but by everyone who’s donated, paid, worked, sweat, and bled to make things happen) because you don’t like someone.
Regardless of which ‘side’ you’re on, if you actually stop reading this and consider what was said and what was done over the past three months, you’ll know that the way she’s been treated cannot be justified. Even if you don’t agree with a word she says or a thing she does, you’ll know that the way she’s been treated cannot be justified.
As I said some 1500 words ago, I don’t expect people to actually think about how they have responded to all this. I don’t expect things to actually change, or for Leslie to even receive an email saying “I’m not your friend and I don’t want to be, but I reacted unfairly”. A lot of people refuse to say that.
On a personal level, all of this has really driven home how few people I want to invest my time and energies into. I didn’t think Leslie’s post would bring a flood of praise and well-wishing, but there are a lot of people I expected something other than overt hostility from. I can count on one hand the number of people who aren’t close friends, but still treated Leslie with some respect — even if they didn’t agree with her.
To those few and rare people, thank you. To anyone who takes the time to read this and think about how Leslie’s been treated, thank you, even if you don’t agree with everything I say. To our friends, thank you for your continued friendship and support.
To everyone else: I have no more energy to spend on the mob and individuals alike who’ve done nothing but support this antagonistic little circus of spite. I’m done with this, and with you.