It’s cool watching my cousin’s kids living their lives on Facebook. For all its drawbacks, it is nice to keep up with family you probably don’t have the right to barge in on. The other day, his daughter, who found him dead, mentioned that it had been five years, and I look back here at the blog and I see that it has been. Since he died, he missed out on becoming a grandpa.
I think I’ve been unfair to Hugo Schwyzer. Or at least I’m going to have to reconsider it in a month or so. I guess part of it is that I just don’t believe that addicts ever change, that if they’re just rampaging through life, they continue that rampage in one form or another. And I believe that, in part, because to not believe it means that some do get lucky. Just not the ones I love.
Which strikes me as so cruelly unfair that I can barely stand it.
And yet, that’s probably closer to the truth.
And so, there we are.
Some folks do get redeemed. Just not us.
Schwyzer’s post on Feministe — and the fallout that occurred because of it — makes me extremely uncomfortable. One one hand, I think his platform could go to someone else, someone whose voice would normally get little airtime in the feminist blog world (and I’m highly suspicious of any man who calls himself a feminist), but I can’t support a community that offers no chance of redemption. That thread was a mess.
Call-outs are less about fighting injustice than they are proving the moral superiority of the person doing the calling out. And yeah, it was a BIG thing. Huge. But I see this happen over and over in the feminist blogosphere — no one is ever, ever, allowed to be flawed.
Yeah, I think that’s true. And I think it’s because women still so very rarely get to be righteously angry unless it’s about our kids or spouses–but to be angry for ourselves? In public?
I think we tend to overindulge in that in the feminist blogosphere because it feels so good. But what does it accomplish?
We are all big, flawed messes.
And I don’t know how we balance the need to protect ourselves from people who are not actually safe with the need to change the world.
I don’t know. Like I said, I’m going to have to think about it some when it’s not the time of year when I’m burning with jealous grief over his ability to turn his life around.
You know what? Being given a second chance is no guarantee that you aren’t still an asshole. I think Hugo is Exhibit A. If you needed further proof that it is indeed luck and random chance that preserves people, I think he is fine serving as it. I have people who didn’t get back. Or didn’t get all the way back. It’s just luck of the draw.
I had to turn down one of my cousin-junkies today…asked for $350, ostensibly to save his family’s store-n-lock where all their stuff has been stored since he moved in with his mother two years ago…felt like shit turning him down under the glow of the Christmas tree, but I’ve been down that road before and can’t go do there again.
Thank you for this. The nuance is comforting.
A couple of years ago I was feeling a bit regretful over some very harsh things I said to and about Hugo during the course of 2008, as my life was falling apart around me. I wasn’t sure in retrospect how much of the anger I’d felt toward him was justified, how much was my own seeking someplace to put my grief over other losses. So he and I met for lunch in Los Angeles, and until this week our relationship since had been cordial. I winced hard at his putting himself front and center at Slutwalk LA, and probably a few other things, but wrote it off to his tone-deaf narcissism, of which he is not exactly the INternet’s sole source.
I don’t read his blog, so I didn’t catch the confession to attempted murder until this week. And I see that Hugo’s response to people who find his act vile, and his blithe, self-centered trivializing of its importance to anyone else except him infuriating, is that they have not “thought about these questions [of redemption and reform] in [their] own life,” as Thorn asked in her series of questions.
I’d wanted to make amends with him a couple years ago mainly because I didn’t like carrying the anger around. But this act? Vanishingly few of us are even entitled to forgive him for this act.
I think he’s dangerous, the worst kind of amoralist: a narcissist who looks to God for instructions. He and I will have no further contact, a decision on my part that I’d recommend to anyone else who has found themselves influenced in the past by charming monsters.
Chris, I’m really glad you wrote this, because both, yes, I have been worried that my own mixed and complicated feelings about my cousin (and other family members) were coloring this and yes, you also worried that your own personal history was coloring your response to him–which means that the problem is NOT people who haven’t thought about these problems of redemption and reform in their own lives, but in fact, his “problem” is indeed people who HAVE thought a lot about redemption and reform, who have hoped and prayed for it for their loved ones who, in their best moments, also hoped and prayed for it.
The people who learned (as I also did) just this week of him trying to kill a woman and who are alarmed that he gets to keep putting himself at the front of the feminist parade are indeed people for whom the stakes of forgiveness and reform are very, very high.
I stopped reading him after the 2008 “I need to lecture you women of color about your treatment of Amanda Marcotte” nonsense. I think this reaffirms that this was the right decision.
But frankly, I’m glad some people still do read him, so that when he admits to things like trying to kill a woman who came to him for comfort and help, word can spread.
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