Groupthink

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.

29 thoughts on “Groupthink

  1. Man o’Man, what a furball! Small group politics really suck galactic muffins!

    My sympathies to both of you…I’ve been on the recieving end of things myself, and I know how much it hurts to give a great deal to a group, then have some faction in it slime you for something you never did, but is atributed to you. One would think that people would check their facts before raising sh*t. :-(

    I wish I could offer you some advice, but I have none.

    “People should never point fingers, because they might go off!”
    – Some Discordian Saint

    ttyl

  2. I said before, I believe her. Her story simply added up and felt true to someone who didn’t even know her then.
    What breaks my snide, misanthropic mess of scar tissue that is a heart is right now, the people who could use the lessons that this contains, and actually grow and become people they themselves could be proud to be are reading this. They are reading it, and it’s passing through all their filtres, and is being re-interpreted and reworded in their own minds. This will become the latest weapon they have against you both.
    This is why all who are truly good people end up going off to be alone, or end up killing themselves. It’s because the true human condition is that of being a vile, hateful killing machine while believing that you are a good person. While those who are actually good, tear themselves to pieces thinking they are actually horrible since they are so completely alien to the popular kids.
    You guys are very important to me, and probably don’t have a clue how important. In your quest for a community somewhere in the world where you are finally home, please make sure I can still find you all. Stay in touch in your travels and I’ll do the same.
    Hope to see you soon, and if it’s ever needed, I’ll happily kick some asses too.

  3. you should skip to the next quiz posted on your friends list and go on with your day

    Fuck man, I was really hoping to find out What element are you? or What kind of dreamer are you? or What colour represents your inner emo kid?

    Damnit, at least post your alignment, race/class, and current level, so I can walk around downtown in my black trenchcoat, rolling some dice and figure out how many hit dice I have.

  4. In your quest for a community somewhere in the world where you are finally home, please make sure I can still find you all.

    right behind you on that one. (and the rest of it too.)
    xoxo

  5. I don’t know Leslie well (having only really met her once or twice) but I know you well… And my heart goes out to both of you. I have seen assults of the nature Leslie describes, and in reading her post I felt she set out fairly. She didn’t try to dress up the situation with emotion, but more a telling of a tale of facts.
    As for this social stigma – Ye Gods I know how it is to be either loved or hated and it really sucks. Often the hate isn’t based on anything tangible, nothing you could point to and see from objectively. Neither the club, nor you nor Leslie should suffer for the actions on one person. Those who make it their issue should look to a kindergarten playground – It’s where that kind of behaviour is actually acceptable (although still not desired).

    I send heartfelt hugs to you both and hope that things get much better soon!

  6. I have remained silent about this whole matter until now, because I know that involvement from me is unnessecary, and I’m pretty confident that all parties involved know I have nothing but love in my heart for them. If they want my comments/advice, they will ask, but they know that my level of support and love has never waned. I don’t always agree with what they say or do, but I still love Ben and Leslie, both of whom have made such a profound impact on my life.

    I break my silence at this time to say that while I no longer regularly attend Zaphod’s on Tuesdays (due to being a father who lives below the poverty line), not a Tuesday goes by when I don’t think of it and wish I could go and cut a rug to Numb. I met Brigitte there. My children wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Tuesday at Zaphods, because I never would have met Brigitte otherwise. I owe my current parental happiness to Leslie’s persistance and passion in keeping the night going. It saddens me to know that this silly, unreasonable boycott is taking place. It would sadden me further to know that the night would go away.

    The disgust you express, Jairus, is understandable. However, may I suggest that if you still find joy in performing every Tuesday, and if Eugene is still willing to keep you guys going, then there is still a reason to continue.

    I kept DJing at Le Bistro every week despite increasingly low turnouts until Le Bistro decided I was no longer profitable and replaced me with someone who would cater to the punk crowd. I kept at it because I loved doing it. On the other hand, I loved it because I stayed out of the politics as much as possible and refused to take sides.

    There is always a middle road. There is always joy to be had in something like DJing and promoting. I hope you are able to let go of the disgust and remember that you’re doing this because it’s fun to do. An arrow can only hurt if you allow yourself to be a target. Granted, there are a lot of arrows flying around, but the principle remains.

    One day, the kids will be old enough to take care of themselves for a few hours, or I’ll make enough money that Brigitte won’t have to work in the evenings and/or we can afford to hire a babysitter, and I will be able to come out again once in a while. I hope there is still a place to go to, because it has been a fun place to be.

    It’s funny though, to think that in due time, none of this will matter anymore. There are people who are being unreasonable now that have a major opportunity to improve themselves forever by letting this go. I hope they find the courage to do that, for it will make them more beautiful people.

  7. I didn’t mean to imply that I’m done with DJing/promotion — i meant ‘this’ as in ‘this specific issue’. I love the music far too much to think about quitting – and I agree with what you’re saying about time. All things are a process.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. You’re missed by all at the club.

  8. goodness… it’s really disturbing that this shit is still going on. a crying shame that things can’t be mended and that the past can’t be left in the past.

    you guys will always have my support, friendship and love. even when i’m all the way in K-town. ;)

  9. Thank you for this post..as Leslie knows you have always had my support..
    You both are such loving and giving people..
    I really can’t wrap my head around why people need to be so mean..I simply don’t get it.
    Emily

  10. I can’t believe some of the things that people have said to me about Leslie, and none of these things have ever been proven to me. I don’t know why people give her such a hard time, for someone who has devoted almost 20 years of their life to maintaining some kind of industrial scene in Ottawa, I really don’t understand.

    The character bashing that goes on. Well I thing that this can be attributed to the deviant nature of the company.

    When ever Leslie has something to say, her thoughs are very well organized and presented in a non biased fashion. That is my opinion anyway.

    I would like to hear some Synth pop on tuesday nights (Grinzz), but I’m not angry over it lol.

  11. i hope i can count on being one of those “people who aren’t close friends, but still treated Leslie with some respect”. i also don’t come out regularly anymore but it is primarily due to my work hours and fatigue issues. will be there for hallowe’en tho – it’s gonna be great!

  12. Thanks for posting that. It’s the first time I’ve heard the story. All I have seen are Leslie’s rather unfathomable short posts of resignation or despair. I now have the context for what she’s been saying.

    It’s because of shit like this (I’ve been in situations somewhat similar socially to what you describe Leslie is going through) that I don’t belong to any social infrastructure these days. I have a few friends, but I don’t belong to any social unit greater than four or five people. After fifteen years of busting my ass despite a vocal minority, I just gave up and walked away from it all. It just wasn’t worth it to me anymore (and yes, communities lost out because of the actions of a few people that really needed to find another outlet for their energy than making things hard for me and others that believed in what we were doing).

    I will give to you the same advice I gave to myself, and anyone else who’s trying to make something of themselves in Ottawa: go somewhere else that will appreciate what you’re doing. Ottawa communities tend to eat their own best and brightest.

  13. I’ve no interest in taking sides, etc, as anybody who knows me otter know.

    Nevertheless, for the record:

    I certainly never felt called upon by you guys to take any kind of “stand,” judge or execute anybody etc. I have since felt a bit pushed by a couple of (probably well-meaning) people in the other direction – “can you believe what Leslie is doing to Ben, etc?”

    Assuming the ban was not the result of Leslie’s actions/wishes, this is ridiculous. What is doubly ridiculous is the few people who have tried to tell me that “nothing happened” – that the whole (non)event was a fabrication. Particularly in light of the fact that I ran into Leslie shortly after the (non)event occurred (the following day, I believe), & took note of her bad limp, bruises, startled shakiness etc. We went for a drink at the Dom (as I recall, this was the first time I tried pickled cheese strings – ew) & it was only after a good deal of pestering that she agreed to tell me what had happened (or, if you prefer, “her version of events.”) This was not done out of a desire to turn me against anybody – in fact, at the time, Leslie was pretty insistent on a) my not talking to anybody about it because she was worried Ben would be persecuted/beaten up and b)my not judging/shunning Ben.

    This is not meant as an indictment. Obviously, i wasn’t there; didn’t see what happened; have no intention of being anybody’s judge/jury etc.

    I also have _no_ reason to doubt what I did see/hear.

    Once again, just for the record.

  14. Wow, it’s not right people are harrassing Leslie over this… I haven’t heard of any of this hate mail and threats business, but if that’s happening that’s not right.

    Also, I do think she should be able to post whatever experiences she likes. But, using his name in it is an accusation.. of something terribly serious. Now, if I were assaulted I’d do the same. But you have to look at it from the point of view of his friends, especially those who don’t really know Leslie… we’re going to see it as attacking, an accusation, and harmful to our friend, even if there was no ‘call to arms’. A guy being known as somene who assaults women is a very serious thing, it can really screw up someone’s life. Of course his friends will question it when there is no proof, and try to defend our friend. Though, as I said, this is no excuse to be harrassing Leslie or otherwise dragging this on. And, I have not, and would not (I just feel I should mention this since you emailed me the link to this… if you’re picking me out in particular I wonder what it is you think I did? :( ).

    As for boycotting Zaphods… well it never has been that for me, in fact I’ve been once or twice recently. I go out to see my friends, though. If someone can’t go to one club, it just makes more sense to move to another rather than exclude someone.

    Anyway, I generally have been trying to avoid all this stuff recently, but I do feel I’ve been ‘called out’ about this, and I figured I should try to clear that up. I want this thing to blow over, and for both Leslie and Ben to be left alone. This includes harrassing/threatening for sure, and also posts on public forums.

  15. Jairus, for the record I want to clear a few things up that have been misconstrued. I have absolutely no desire to engage in a protracted debate about this for I feel that while I was trying to be objective and rational previously, some choose to lash out at me at call me names, troll my LJ and look to pick apart my life and the things I do in an effort to do God knows what beside defamation of my character. It is not that I feel hurt in any manner or am trying any shit or looking for sympathy, it is just I have much better things to do then argue about this much longer.

    I thought about answering you all weekend and have choosing to do so, mostly after receiving your message, althought if you wish I believe my e-mail is posted on my info page for the future. I have thusly formulated my thoughts.

    My only problem with the whole situation was the asking for of restorative justice and I believe it was clear if you follow the threads that was clear. This is for 2 reasons.

    1)Restorative justice requires a criminal, and Ben has not been found guilty in a court of law, and
    2)Restorative justice requires the willing consent of the convict. Something Ben isn’t willing to do.

    All I was ever arguing for is Ben’s rights, and mostly the right of self determination. I never said you had violated his rights under the charter, I said if restorative justice was pursued then that would violate his rights. Two very different things. He is innocent till proven guilty, but more so, until he chooses to participate in any kind of restorative justice then I cannot with good conscious allow others to force their will’s upon him, and that is exactly what it would be. You say Leslie wants me to help him. The simple fact is I can’t. I can’t force my help upon him or anyone else who is not a willing participant. He has to ask, he has to choose, he has to be willing. Until then there is nothing I can do, save a few suggestions, which you may or may not have assumed I haven’t already made to him. It would be akin as if I walked into the Dom one night, poured out peoples drink and told them they had to go to AA, and proceeded to drag them to a meeting. Quite frankly if I ever did that, then I would be in the wrong. Until Ben is willing, until he chooses, I will stand up for, regardless of the sling and arrows, his right of self determination. If and when Ben ask for help, then I will be the first one there, offering whatever help I can. Something I repeatedly said.

    Continued in next comment…

  16. Now as for Ben being Banned. I know you guys didn’t get him banned and never said you did. But even if you had (hypothetically), I would support Leslie in that decision. She has the same rights of self determination, and her not feeling safe at work limits those rights, for she would not be able to freely choose to go to work for an external constraint upon her freedom. Something I said previously and continue to maintain.

    All I ever tried to do was stand up for the right of self determination, not for Ben, not for Leslie, simple the concept of the right of self determination (In my opinion quite likely thee most important and inherent human right, if such a concept actually exist outside theoriticals and human understanding). Whatever people may think or say, I really don’t care. They can call me judgemental, an asshole, a cannibal or a christian prick, I care not. I will vigorously stand up for Ben’s rights, Leslie’s rights and every man, woman and child rights. It is my sacred duty to as a servant of Christ. Personnally I am not on a side, or if you had to put me on one, then I am the side of Christ. I struggle to live up to the ideals he taught, and sometimes fail and sometimes I succeed. Before we get into a biblical debate, you have to understand that I firmly believe in the deontological principles of the two greatest commandments above all else, above everything else writing.

    I haven’t come to Zaphods, not because of this, but because of life. I work 50 hours a week. I have 3 class at Carleton, which amonts to 9 hours of class, 3 nights a week. I have committements with church, stewardship duites, Parish council and prison ministry to uphold. I simple have not had the time to come out to Zaphods, or to the Dom either.

    I do not feel I have unfairly treated Leslie, other then perhaps that I was not empathetic towards her and her pain. I have already apologized for that and have learned from the experience and will endeavor to be better in the future. My apology was meet with hate. Which frankly is her choice, and she is free to do. I hold no grudge, nor do I seek to try to bring down any club night. She is free to hate me if she wishes, as are her friends. They can continue to judge me and make assumptions. But Jairus, all I have ever spoke about, posted about, was Ben’s rights of a fair trial, guaranteed in law, and his choice of self determination in choosing NOT to participate in restorative justice. I also spoke about Leslie’s rights to feel safe at work and not have an external contraint upon her in exercising the aformentioned right, namely if she banned Ben, then it would be okay by me. (And once again, I know she did NOT have him banned)

    I doubt that this will help anything, but I hope it fosters understanding.

  17. I know we dont talk much anymore, but i do hope you know that i still love you both very much. I hope time will heal some of these wounds and will give clearity to this and to the other situations that have grown from it.

    Adam

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