Appalling

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RohanM

Villager
Russ,

I am writing as a long time reader of the EN World site. However I will no longer be a visitor to your site, and it is important to express why.

About a day ago, you yourself posted a news article about Zac S. This was done in a very irresponsible manner. You had to have anticipated the kind of discussion that ensued. If you didn't anticipate it, then well, that itself is a distressing indictment.

That thread was allowed to progress for a day or so. One of the final posts, by the moderator "Umbran" stated "One evening. I step away from keyboard [for] one evening. Sheesh." - that a moderator would "step away from the keyboard" for an extended length of time while such a discussion was ongoing, is incredibly poor judgement, especially given that that moderator already knew of the path the discussion had gone down (having issued at least one warning to a member).

Now, of course, you might say that the moderator is a volunteer (I am presuming) and also has a life and should be able to step away. You might also say that the participants in the discussion are adults and should be able to conduct themselves appropriately. However my own experience of following your site tells me that isn't the case - as the owner of the site you must know that isn't the case. And given that, the moderator should not have stepped away from a thread about such a volatile topic, or should have arranged a replacement. Or, you know, given that you posted it, and are the owner of the site, you should have taken ownership of the thread and the fallout, rather than leaving it to a lackey.

That same post also used a word that placed the moderator themself (and by extension you, as the site owner) in the very mire that the moderator is supposed to be keeping everyone out of. It was a simple word - "babysitting", but it carries implied meaning and judgement - something a moderator is supposed to be holding themselves above, given that it is part of their role to judge others about the very same language. Of course the use of the word "babysitting" could be seen as very mild, and nothing like other examples of language that had been used in the discussion. But that is irrelevant because its use placed that moderator in the mire (even if at the very edges), when the moderator is supposed to be outside of it.

If you think I am being too sensitive about the use of the word "babysitting", consider how you felt when you read my (deliberate) use of the term "lackey" in the preceding paragraph. It could be considered a "mild" term, but it carried and implied insult and the moderator in question would be well within their rights to be offended.

Ultimately, the problem is that this is such an important issue, such a sensitive issue, that it needs to be handled with much more awareness, sensitivity and skill than has been done by yourself or EN World at large, in this instance at least. And because of the sensitivity of this issue, and your inability to handle it appropriately, you should not engage in it at all. If you argue that EN World is a 'news' site and this is news, then post it, but disable the comments immediately.

What is seems you have failed to consider is the effect that discussion would have on anyone who has experienced sexual assault, harassment, bullying. The effects of such discussions is why "content warnings" are now provided (and which you included in your post).

Given the number of people Zac S. is alleged to have abused, it seems likely that at least one, or some, might be reading your article - did you consider the effect it might have on them by (completely unnecessarily) splashing an extremely large photo of the alleged abuser inside the article?

That you posted that article in the manner you did, and allowed the ensuing discussion to take place and continue for so long, is an egregious fault on your part.

No statement was provided in the article about EN World's position, and therefore it is open for a reader to make their own assumptions about your position.

If you support Zac S. and the "innocent until proven guilty" position, then state it. If you support the "I believe Mandy" position, then state it. If you believe you are a news site and therefore impartial, then state it (but then, you know, you have to actually be impartial, which for many reasons, EN World is not). And whichever it is, have the integrity to state it up front, so the reader understands your motives and your position.

And, as the poster of the article and owner of the site, take more responsibility by actually involving yourself in the discussion. My personal view was that you posted the article and then just disappeared. I kept reading waiting expectantly for a response from you, but ....... nothing; like you had thrown a grenade out there and then gone to ground and stuck your head in the sand. That is extremely poor on your part.

It is vitally important for the victims of sexual assault, harassment and bullying to be given full support and shown compassion and validation through our actions and choices.

For full disclosure - I believe Mandy. I believe Jennifer. I believe Hannah. My view is that Zac S., and all perpetrators, should be stripped of any awards or benefits they or their creations have received in the past, or might be due in the future; and should be excluded from any such well into the future and until they have demonstrably changed; accepted and acknowledged their abuse and the destructive impact they have had; and apologised to their victims. In my view anything less enables such actions to continue to be perpetrated without consequence.

It is a sad indictment on humans that they are willing to overlook immoral, violent and abusive acts simply because it is in their (usually financial) interest to do so; too bad for the victims. Of course, that all changes once that individual themselves is directly affected by such crimes, and then they expect everyone else to be outraged and support them because they have been affected.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If you support Zac S. and the "innocent until proven guilty" position, then state it. If you support the "I believe Mandy" position, then state it. If you believe you are a news site and therefore impartial, then state it (but then, you know, you have to actually be impartial, which for many reasons, EN World is not). And whichever it is, have the integrity to state it up front, so the reader understands your motives and your position.
Yes, I absolutely believe Mandy, Jennifer, and Hannah.

I tried to report the news as best as I could. Given the way we've covered such issues in the past, and how clear I try to make my stance on these things, it didn't occur to me that anybody would think otherwise (my fault - I should have said so up front), but for clarity: yes, of course I do. I believe they've been though a horrible ordeal. I can't even begin to comprehend how terrible it was and still is.

I think maybe I should consider closing comments on news items like that. I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do, but I'll give it some thought. You're right in that I was away for the day, and as it happened so was Umbran; unfortunately, that was unavoidable, and I didn't want to ignore something so important, and Mandy had asked that folk share it wide.

I certainly hope that the coverage didn't cause anybody any pain. If it did, it was very much not my intention, and I apologise for that.

I'm going to close this thread, as we've closed one thread on the topic already and don't want it just to start up again. Thank you for the comment, though.
 
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