16 votes

What it’s like to be cancelled

26 comments

  1. knocklessmonster
    Link
    I'm going to take a potentially controversial stance here and say if he seems unrepentant it's because he doesn't owe the reader an apology in this context. He's explaining his side of being...

    I'm going to take a potentially controversial stance here and say if he seems unrepentant it's because he doesn't owe the reader an apology in this context. He's explaining his side of being canceled. I've learned what he did by reading the linked public apology here, and comfortably stand by it because he is merely describing the events that happened afterward. Anybody who knows the situation knows what it is, but my opinion isn't changed after knowing what it was that got him cancelled.

    I also agree that the people who feel the worst about the things they did can be the worst when it comes to taking down these online villains, or even perceived villains in real life. I've personally dealt with this, both as a dispenser, and recipient of outrage from somebody who was trying to atone for their bad behavior and would wager I, and my friend group, are not unique at all.

    Considering what he did, perhaps it's best his working relationships ended for a time so companies can get their distance from the controversy. The organizations don't want to work with him after what he did, and honestly it is their right. However, if I were in a position to, I would also consider hiring him after he had demonstrated this growth, even if I had fired him previously. Don't get me wrong, if he repeated this behavior I would throw him out on his ass, and let him know as much, but people who are growing deserve the chance to show it. Even a confessed sexual predator deserves a chance at rehabilitation and recovery, provided they're willing to help themselves.

    13 votes
  2. [15]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    Being a Magic: The Gathering (MtG) player, I remember when Wizards of the Coast (the division of Hasbro that develops MtG and commissioned his art for many game pieces in that game) distanced...

    Being a Magic: The Gathering (MtG) player, I remember when Wizards of the Coast (the division of Hasbro that develops MtG and commissioned his art for many game pieces in that game) distanced themselves from Bradley.

    On the one hand, I think the Twittersphere is rife with vultures who were ready to tear Bradley down the moment they got a whiff of this scandal (I honestly don't think I ever saw a real account of his original offenses other than vague allusions to predatory womanizing and misogyny). I think the vultures are toxic and that Twitter doesn't do enough to inhibit that sort of culture.

    Does Bradley have the right to lament this? Sure.

    On the other hand, Bradley does not do himself any favors. He seems rather narcissistic in the face of all this. On top of that, while he admits to being culpable, he does not seem to be repentant.

    Anyone who thinks pseudo-intellectual stuff like the 48 Laws are worth plastering on your computer desktop, much less sharing with others, is at best lacking some critical thinking skills and at worst a narcissistic, power-hungry psychopath. Saying that you feel like an idiot doesn't strike me as a true mea culpa here. I get no sense that he understands the reason why this looks bad (assuming we actually believe his naïveté in not understanding the cultural associations with that book).

    Basically, the only genuine apology and whiff of humanity I could find in the whole post was the part about how his cancelling impacted his wife's career negatively. I'm not sure why the world needs to hear that apology, though. It seems totally performative—if he apologized to his wife in private and she already forgave him (as he claims), I don't really see why this part of the post is warranted. He should have taken the opportunity to apologize to the women he was misogynistic toward or his fans who looked up to him. It's fine if his wife is more important to him than others, but in a medium like a public blog post, maybe take your audience into account? You're speaking to the public here, not your wife.

    tl;dr It's not a crime to be a bad person, but if you admit to wrongdoing, it's not a good look to write self-serving blog posts whining about how others treat you. If he's really committed to being better, as he claims, maybe demonstrate some real remorse and focus on how you treat others.

    12 votes
    1. [5]
      NaraVara
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      The thing is, if he's wronged people I feel like the apology is between himself and the people he's wronged. That's generally how apologies work. I don't really see why a sundry bunch of internet...
      • Exemplary

      Saying that you feel like an idiot doesn't strike me as a true mea culpa here. I get no sense that he understands the reason why this looks bad (assuming we actually believe his naïveté in not understanding the cultural associations with that book).

      The thing is, if he's wronged people I feel like the apology is between himself and the people he's wronged. That's generally how apologies work. I don't really see why a sundry bunch of internet people are owed an apology, an accounting of his behavior, or a look into the deepest sentiments of his heart to determine whether it weighs as much a feather. I also don't get what qualifies said group to have any kind of authority to sit in judgement over whether the apology is "good enough."

      It starts to look a lot more like a popularity contest than a search for justice. It's doubtful any apology would ever be "good enough" because none of the people judging have any real idea of what specific things he's even apologizing for! What's the testing metric then? Whether he's a 'good enough' human by the standards of random Twitter folks?

      22 votes
      1. [2]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        I linked this below but ill share it again here. I was confused why the author did not actually explain what his behavior was or why he was "cancelled" beyond " I had slept with women at events...

        I linked this below but ill share it again here.

        I was confused why the author did not actually explain what his behavior was or why he was "cancelled" beyond " I had slept with women at events and sometimes I was a dick."

        I went and found his initial apology and in it he straight up said that he was a sexual predator.

        Apology screenshot

        I was terrible to women.

        I preyed on them. I ceaselessly hit on them. I pressured them into sex. I got too drunk and did all manner of dumb things. Yes, I was one of those shitty creepy sexual predators you hear about.

        The guy admitted to sexually harassing women with allusions that maybe he even assaulted people.

        This is also probably why he didn't link to his original apology or actually acknowledge any specifics of what he did or was accused of doing.

        After reading this, I am unequivocally okay with this admitted sexual predator being "cancelled." I do not care at all if he thought people were mean to him online in response to his actions of harassing and possibly assaulting women.

        He said that he thinks cancelling people is unproductive and wanted to "give an overview of what happened to him", but all he does here is act like victim when he admitted to harassing women. Sorry, but I just don't buy it.

        9 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Taking his most current blog post into account I'm not actually sure how much of that confession is genuine versus him just saying what he thought he needed to say to contain the shitstorm he was...

          The guy admitted to sexually harassing women with allusions that maybe he even assaulted people.

          Taking his most current blog post into account I'm not actually sure how much of that confession is genuine versus him just saying what he thought he needed to say to contain the shitstorm he was in at the time. Confessions under duress aren't generally great as evidence, especially if the most damning bits involve parsing the specific terminology they used and deciding how minimally or maximally you want to interpret it. The targets of 'struggle sessions' will often sign off on all sorts of things that they don't strictly believe just to make the abuse stop. You yell at someone enough about what a piece of shit they are and eventually they will start to doubt themselves and maybe even believe you. This is exactly how gaslighting works.

          It's very easy to believe all the worst things about people you're already inclined to dislike based on very scant evidence, and it has a way of working in a feedback loop with each concession to "I understand why you felt that way" being used as ammo to further prove whatever accusations are being thrown at you and further entrench the argument that you're an irredeemable monster. All of this goes back to it being a generally unhealthy social dynamic for strangers on the internet to get this involved in personal drama about the goings on of people and places they don't know and have no good way of finding out about. There just isn't enough context for anyone but a handful of people to be drawing useful conclusions here, but the impulse to sit in judgement and mete out punishments is, I guess, just too strong.

          17 votes
      2. [2]
        onyxleopard
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I agree, which is why I think he probably should have just maintained his silence. I don't think his past ill-behavior is something you or I should care about if he has made a good-faith effort to...

        The thing is, if he's wronged people I feel like the apology is between himself and the people he's wronged.

        I agree, which is why I think he probably should have just maintained his silence. I don't think his past ill-behavior is something you or I should care about if he has made a good-faith effort to patch things up with those he wronged. But, due to the parasocial relation that high profile MtG artists have with the MtG player base, and WotC's public disengagement with him, (and maybe also Bradley's egotism), here we are reading his blog and hashing things out in the court of public opinion.

        3 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          This is probably the big thing. I think a lot of people bandwagoned on because they don't like Bradley due to his being kind of a narcissistic douche. That not only makes it easier to believe any...

          and maybe also Bradley's egotism

          This is probably the big thing. I think a lot of people bandwagoned on because they don't like Bradley due to his being kind of a narcissistic douche. That not only makes it easier to believe any bad story about him, but also makes it more fun to join in on petitions to get him fired from whatever.

          I hadn't thought about parasociality extending to making enemies and holding grudges against people you don't know as if they're in your social circle the same way it makes people think they're friends with people they follow, but based on what you said it's pretty hard to deny that's an important dimension of it as well.

          6 votes
    2. [7]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      Yeah, I came here to say that this doesn't read as an apology at all or even an acknowledgement of what he did. I knew nothing about this guy before reading this post, but all this seems to be is...

      On the other hand, Bradley does not do himself any favors. He seems rather narcissistic in the face of all this. On top of that, while he admits to being culpable, he does not seem to be repentant.

      Yeah, I came here to say that this doesn't read as an apology at all or even an acknowledgement of what he did. I knew nothing about this guy before reading this post, but all this seems to be is a woe is me post about how hard and traumatic it was for being 'cancelled', but never really addressing the consequences of his actions beyond how it impacted his wife. I 100% agree that he should have spent more time than pointing people to some podcast recording for details on what he did.

      Also while this guy's career took a hit over the last year, it ends with him talking about his new business and how he is trying to turn things around. This whole thing feels incredibly self-serving.

      One thing that I really liked about both Lindsay Ellis and Contrapoints respective "Cancelling" retrospectives is they both did deep dives into what they were accused of, explained themselves where appropriate, as well as acknowledged harm when it was due. For those interested in a more in-depth look into what it is like being "cancelled" and facing the online mob, I would really recommend those two pieces.

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        aphoenix
        Link Parent
        To be clear: this post isn't an apology. This is post is about being cancelled. He has issued many apologies, often directly to the people to whom he wronged. Why should we expect that this post,...

        To be clear: this post isn't an apology. This is post is about being cancelled. He has issued many apologies, often directly to the people to whom he wronged. Why should we expect that this post, in which he talks about the effects of being cancelled, include an apology? Once one acknowledges ones wrongs, does one need to apologize at all times moving forward?

        Also, it might be important to recognize that when he first apologized to the general public it ended his entire career, so he probably is going to be careful about issuing apologies.

        11 votes
        1. [3]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          I mean, the one and only apology that he has made publicly he has deleted. I guess we are taking his word that he apologized privately to the many women he says he was a creep too. I think that an...

          He has issued many apologies, often directly to the people to whom he wronged.

          I mean, the one and only apology that he has made publicly he has deleted. I guess we are taking his word that he apologized privately to the many women he says he was a creep too.

          Why should we expect that this post, in which he talks about the effects of being cancelled, include an apology?

          I think that an acknowledgement of the actual things he did would make a lot of sense for a post about being cancelled. My first reaction after reading this was that it sounded like he was hiding something and being purposefully obtuse about the whole situation. Why should I care what his reaction to being cancelled was without understanding the context?

          Once one acknowledges ones wrongs, does one need to apologize at all times moving forward?

          Again, he has deleted his only public apology and has just said things like "my apology was stupid."

          Also, it might be important to recognize that when he first apologized to the general public it ended his entire career, so he probably is going to be careful about issuing apologies.

          I would say him losing his job at the time for sexually harassing women is a uh good thing. Do you disagree?

          He also still has a career. He is making art. He posts a ton on Twitter. He admitted in this post he is self-employed now, but just has less income than he did before. I don't know why I am supposed to care that this guy had a tough time for a few months.

          I would much rather know how his victims are doing. I'm also baffled by the broader response here that so many people seem to be defending this guy or are at least neutral towards him.

          4 votes
          1. aphoenix
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            So forgive me for being more informed (gosh that sounds snarky, but it's not) - it's notable that I play Magic, I watched this unfold in real time, and had opinions on that as it happened. For the...
            • Exemplary

            So forgive me for being more informed (gosh that sounds snarky, but it's not) - it's notable that I play Magic, I watched this unfold in real time, and had opinions on that as it happened. For the record my opinions on it are:

            • Bradley rightfully lost his job.
            • Bradley's apologies are probably mostly for his own benefit.
            • Bradley is almost certainly some kind of sociopath.
            • Bradley was a "pick up artist" style of predator, in that he wanted to sleep with women just to have sex. I do not believe that he committed any sex crimes, as is often assumed by the phrase sexual predator and he was not admitting to committing any sex crimes in his apology. He was putting forth that not all predatory behaviour is criminal.

            The last point is perhaps the most salient one - he is not a Weinstein or a Spacey, he is a minor celebrity who used his minor status to sleep with women at conventions. Important note: I do not condone doing this.

            So to move forward:

            I would say him losing his job at the time for sexually harassing women is a uh good thing. Do you disagree?

            I agree 100% - him losing his job at the time was good. I agree so much that I actually wrote a letter to WotC explaining that I wouldn't be purchasing more goods from them if they continued to use his art. It was a fairly toothless (though truthful!) threat - my spending habits won't make or break them - but I believe in voting with my wallet.

            He also still has a career. He is making art.

            He has changed careers. He is not doing the same career as before; the art is not the same. I do not begrudge him having a career, though I won't be buying anything from him.

            I don't know why I am supposed to care that this guy had a tough time for a few months.

            Nobody is asking you to care that this guy is having a tough time. You probably don't care, and that's fine. Personally, I found what he wrote to be rather interesting - it's a look at what happens when you get cancelled. Yes, it's a little bit self pitying. No, it doesn't make me feel bad for him. Yes, it's a cry for attention, because Bradley needs that attention.

            I would much rather know how his victims are doing.

            See above re: crimes. One interpretation would be that there aren't any "victims" because for there to be a victim, there has to be a crime. As far as anyone knows, he has committed no crimes, and there are no victims. There are people that he used his influence to sleep with, and yes, it would be great to know that they are okay. I want to be clear on something here - I'm not excusing or endorsing Bradley's reprehensible behaviour. I am acknowledging, though, that to the best of everyone's knowledge, this man has not committed a single crime. Do I like him? No. Do I think that his life should be ruined because he likes sleeping around? Also no. Do I endorse using scummy PUA-style tactics and minor celebrity to have sex with women? No.

            I'm also baffled by the broader response here that so many people seem to be defending this guy or are at least neutral towards him.

            I'm not defending him, but I think Bradley is a cautionary tale of the sorts of things that happen in our polarized society right now. He's not a rapist, he's not a criminal; he's just a douchebag. Being a douchebag isn't illegal, but lots of people are treating it like it is.

            I think he should be allowed to live his life. I think he has apologized for his mistakes, and I think he has committed no crimes.

            9 votes
          2. TheJorro
            Link Parent
            That link says something very different than what you claimed, and is actually more specific and nuanced.

            Again, he has deleted his only public apology and has just said things like "my apology was stupid."

            That link says something very different than what you claimed, and is actually more specific and nuanced.

            7 votes
      2. [2]
        mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        How many of us possess the humility, inner strength, rhetorical ability, and propensity to naturally engage in public conversation, in order to make an apology that does not sound self-serving? At...

        How many of us possess the humility, inner strength, rhetorical ability, and propensity to naturally engage in public conversation, in order to make an apology that does not sound self-serving? At least in some respect, apologies are usually about containing damage. There is an undeniable self-serving aspect to it that some are more effective in concealing.

        I'm not really interested in engaging in endless apology hermeneutics here. The ability to compose a persuasive apology says more about an individual's ability to maneuver language and social contexts than a state of genuine contrition. Ultimately, I'm not even looking for contrition, since that is also highly subjective. I'm mostly concerned with what I can see, and the grim possibilities that it entails for cases like this one.

        7 votes
        1. dubteedub
          Link Parent
          I mean, this post is just not an apology at all. There is no acknowledgement of their actions or how they affected others beyond his wife. All he does here is explain how hard it was for him...

          I mean, this post is just not an apology at all. There is no acknowledgement of their actions or how they affected others beyond his wife. All he does here is explain how hard it was for him personally after he sexually harassed a bunch of women.

          3 votes
    3. [2]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I often fail to envision a proper course of action that might lead to the public acknowledgement of repent. There doesn't seem to exist any particularly effective rhetoric that might adequately...

      I often fail to envision a proper course of action that might lead to the public acknowledgement of repent. There doesn't seem to exist any particularly effective rhetoric that might adequately convey something like that when public sentiments are settled. Sure, being an inept communicator and a narcissist are undesirable traits, but that is far from egregious in and of itself. We're all adults and consequences are inevitable in social life, but sometimes reactions can be dangerously disproportionate and do not admit any possibility of an appeal, even in the face of vague accusations and flimsy evidence.

      4 votes
      1. onyxleopard
        Link Parent
        I don't know what the most proper course of action is either, it's just my sense that within the space of all possible things he could have written, this blog post is way off the mark. Not saying...

        I don't know what the most proper course of action is either, it's just my sense that within the space of all possible things he could have written, this blog post is way off the mark. Not saying anything at all (which he seemed to have done for about a year) would probably have been a better choice.

        3 votes
  3. [10]
    MetArtScroll
    Link
    Eighth Amendment: While there are cases when a harsh punishment is really necessary, I hope this maxima of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America becomes...

    My wife

    The worst pain I experienced in the past year wasn’t because of anything that happened to me. It was the effect this had on my wife.
    (snipped)
    But in spite of everything, she has stuck with me and is the reason I’m still alive today.

    Eighth Amendment:

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    While there are cases when a harsh punishment is really necessary, I hope this maxima of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America becomes universally accepted.

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      Part of the "problem" is that the constitution is really on the side of the cancellers, and, at least in the micro case... it seems correct in being so. Everyone has the ability to choose who they...

      Part of the "problem" is that the constitution is really on the side of the cancellers, and, at least in the micro case... it seems correct in being so.

      Everyone has the ability to choose who they associate with - if people revile you and choose not to talk to you, do business with you, etc., I mean that is their rightful choice.

      The US has substantial free peach precedents as well. This is more of a sliding scale - death threats are illegal, and should be - but no matter how strictly you implement them it's hard to argue that someone can't say "Hey, I think you're a terrible person" to your face.

      Of course, in many ways "canceling" can resemble mob mentality with all the pitfalls that has, but when the cudgel is just being a social pariah I'm not sure there's much there can be done by any single entity, by the government or otherwise.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        While that may very well be true, I believe the comment above advocates for social change inspired by a particular constitutional principle rather than some kind of judicial intervention in those...

        While that may very well be true, I believe the comment above advocates for social change inspired by a particular constitutional principle rather than some kind of judicial intervention in those cases.

        1 vote
        1. stu2b50
          Link Parent
          True, but the problem is that on a social level it the sum of a bunch of individual decisions, and those decisions aren’t really purely punitive either. If I, and only I, choose to completely...

          True, but the problem is that on a social level it the sum of a bunch of individual decisions, and those decisions aren’t really purely punitive either.

          If I, and only I, choose to completely cutoff someone, it’s not much of a punishment at all. On the other hand, if everyone joins me, then it becomes pretty hard to live.

          Furthermore, i could make that decision for purely selfish reasons - ie X person presence makes me feel bad, so I don’t engage with them at all.

          It’s difficult for “society” as an abstract entity to distinguish its collective actions between cruel or normative punishment, or even punitive punishment or negative side effect

          4 votes
      2. [2]
        MetArtScroll
        Link Parent
        I'd say you are right. The First Amendment in such cases is basically on the cancellers' side. So my recommendation [I am not a US citizen] is to use your brain. Some long time ago, someone did...

        I'd say you are right. The First Amendment in such cases is basically on the cancellers' side.

        So my recommendation [I am not a US citizen] is to use your brain. Some long time ago, someone did something that is unacceptable today. Does this mean that that person's life should be destroyed?

        1. stu2b50
          Link Parent
          Yeah, but is not the decision you as an individual are making. You are making "should I interact/engage with this person or should I actively denounce this person". If only I do either of those,...

          Yeah, but

          Does this mean that that person's life should be destroyed?

          is not the decision you as an individual are making. You are making "should I interact/engage with this person or should I actively denounce this person". If only I do either of those, as just a random citizen, it's not going to have much of an effect at all, let alone life destroying.

          It's only in the aggregate that it can be life destroying - if everyone ignores you, then that's quite hard to live with.

          So you'd really need some kind of body that can represent the whole of society to do that kind of macro decision ("enough people have cast this person as a pariah such that it's very damaging")... which is the government, but at the same time it'd be kind of absurd if your local government forced people that didn't want to engage with someone, to engage with them/pretend to be neutral to them.

          5 votes
    2. [4]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      What do you think about the consequences this guy has faced were "cruel and unusual"?

      What do you think about the consequences this guy has faced were "cruel and unusual"?

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        It is not really possible for us to justify speculation on what happened concretely, but given the vagueness of the allegations that were divulged, their immateriality, and lack of follow-up, this...

        It is not really possible for us to justify speculation on what happened concretely, but given the vagueness of the allegations that were divulged, their immateriality, and lack of follow-up, this does seem like a case of disproportionate consequences.

        In such circumstances, if one follows the presumption of innocence, any punishment is possibly cruel and unusual.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          Well, the author here does not really explain what happened in this post. I went and found his intial apology and he straight up said that he was a predator here. Apology screenshot The guy...

          Well, the author here does not really explain what happened in this post.

          I went and found his intial apology and he straight up said that he was a predator here.

          Apology screenshot

          I was terrible to women.

          I preyed on them. I ceaselessly hit on them. I pressured them into sex. I got too drunk and did all manner of dumb things. Yes, I was one of those shitty creepy sexual predators you hear about.

          The guy admitted to sexually harassing women with allusions that maybe he even assaulted people.

          Losing his job and ability to continue to interact with fans does not seem like cruel or unusual here.

          This is also probably why he didnt link to his original apology or acknowledge any of the awful shit he did.

          After reading this, yeah I am unequivocally okay with this misogynist and admitted sexual predator to be cancelled. I do not care at all if he thought people were mean to him online in response to his actions of harassing and possibly assaulting women.

          3 votes
          1. mrbig
            Link Parent
            Rest assured that this cancelling was already done.

            Rest assured that this cancelling was already done.

            3 votes