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Friend Groups, Social Legitimacy, Abusers and No Contact Requests

This is part of a series of posts explaining the harassment against me which has been going on for years. The harassment is coming from David Deutsch (DD) as well as his direct and indirect associates, especially “Andy B” who is one step removed from DD on the social graph (many of DD’s friends are friends with Andy).

In this post, I discuss friend groups, social legitimacy, abusers and going no contact. I tried to address this privately first, but they won’t do that.

Runescape Scammers

YouTube video: Why are So Many Scammers on Runescape? Starting at 6:50, Crumb says:

So one thing I’ve observed in scamming and hacking discords is that they often treat it like some sort of legitimate business. They’re sharing screenshots of what they’ve stolen and they’re receiving praise for it from other scammers in that server. And so it creates this social group where everyone is accepting of this wrongdoing. And I think this helps the scammer feel not like a menace to society and in fact even like somebody who is achieving something. They have a friend group that is supporting of what they’re doing and is also engaging in the same types of activities. It normalizes it. I think that is a dangerous situation to find yourself in, especially if you’re somebody who is a bit of a recluse. You maybe don’t have friends in real life and so this becomes your primary only social group. How are you going to get out of that? You know, to scam is to not add any value to society which is a real problem […]

This is happening with the harassment against me. Andy B is being given social approval and a friend group by people like Brett, Lulie, and Bruce (who are DD’s associates and/or leaders in his fan community). They normalize Andy’s actions, accept his wrongdoing, and help him feel like he’s achieving something (fighting DD’s enemies) rather than being a menace to society. Some people in the group also do harassment themselves, which isn’t as severe as Andy’s harassment, but which is still bad and encourages him.

Social legitimacy and having friends makes a big difference to scammers. Fortunately, scammers can usually only get that from other scammers. They’re driven underground. Regular people despise scammers and won’t be civil with them. The scammer has to hide the scamming to get along with people. You wouldn’t want to be friends with a scammer. That makes it harder to be a scammer and reduces the number of scammers in the world. But Andy is getting support from a bunch of people. They provide some of the support publicly, on social media, under their real names, which provides extra social legitimacy.

Most people also avoid knowingly being friendly with gang members, drug dealers, phone call scammers (“Hi, we’re calling about your car’s extended warranty…” or the guys who impersonate the social security administration), murderers, robbers, embezzlers, money launderers, etc. Those things are punished by social ostracism in addition to potential jail time. Overall, I think people’s moral judgments and social decisions make a larger difference to stopping crime than the criminal justice system does. (Imagine a society where no one respected the law, people didn’t feel bad or guilty about committing crimes, most people knew multiple criminals and cheered for them, and everyone refused to cooperate in police investigations. Law enforcement wouldn’t be very effective.)

Note that Andy’s harassment has included cyberstalking, hundreds of nasty messages, maintaining sock puppets for months, using 20+ identities and 100+ IP addresses, using hacking tools to evade computer security systems, threatening IRL harm, doxing, and spamming. He’s been doing this for more than two years. This isn’t some sort of minor incident involving a few rude comments. People can often be nasty for a few days on their own, but they rarely keep it up so long without any form of external encouragement. (I think the most common reason for long term harassment from a lone individual with no encouragement is because they’re stalking a girl they like. But I’m not a girl and I haven’t received that kind of harassment.)

Socially Legitimizing Abusers

Many women (and some men) have been abused or raped but, for various reasons, don’t get help from the police. Many abusers or rapists have faced too little social ostracism and that’s been a significant societal problem. People have been working to reform that, and the issue has received national attention with the #MeToo movement. (The activists also make some errors; I’m not endorsing them but partly agree.)

Many rapists are members of their victim’s social group (because people are often raped by someone they know). A common problem is that other people stay friends with the rapist even after the women (or man) opens up and tells them about the rape. The woman can end up excluded from social events because people keep inviting her rapist, so to avoid him she has to stay home. It’d discourage rape more if people treated rapists worse instead of saying “Well, I’m not doing anything. I didn’t rape anyone. What are you blaming me for? If there’s an issue, I’m sure the government will take care of it. It’s not my place to worry about whether my buddies are rapists.”

Do you see the parallel? DD and his friends keep the abuser Andy B in their social group/community, and seem to think that’s OK since they didn’t personally abuse me. (Apart from the occasions when they did abuse me, e.g. when DD lied to damage my reputation.)

These kind of “neutral” reactions, like including a rapist in social events, both further victimizes the victim (by excluding her) and also legitimizes the rapist. He’ll think he must not be doing anything very bad because his friends still talk with him and invite him to stuff. He may even think they agree with him that she was annoying or a tease, and was asking for it; he may assume they also abuse girls in private. It’s unrealistic for an abuser to see his own behavior as worse than how his friends see and treat it. And if he’s the one who is showing his face in public (at social events), then it appears like he’s the one with nothing to hide.

Sometimes abusers even try to claim the moral high ground. It’s powerful to say to your victim, “Even your friend Amanda thinks you’re overreacting.” Abusers often try to turn things around and play the victim, e.g. by complaining that they’re being bullied by their victim’s over-zealous complaints. (One of the responses I’ve gotten is that I’m the real abuser because I’m writing negative things about Andy, DD and others. I’ve been told I need to leave them alone – meaning shut up, suffer in silence, and don’t tell my story, not even on my own blog, even though the abuse is ongoing.)

There are also more subtle problems. If you’re trying to talk with someone at a social gathering, your ex can come up and say something that’s just a little awkward but which disrupts the conversation or chases you away. And he can do that 10 times when you try to talk to 10 different people. Each person may think you’re overreacting if you complain or explain, because he didn’t really do anything that bad, so why are you so upset? They don’t see the pattern where he does it over and over, and they refuse to shun him or care about your story about his ongoing harassment because they don’t see how it’s their problem. But their attitude is enabling him to keep doing this. Their attitude is vulnerable to harassers, and can enable or favor them, as a systematic bias that can be exploited. (This is similar to how I tried to talk with people at the Less Wrong forum, but Andy stalked me there under another fake name and posted disruptive stuff every time I started a conversation.)

If you try to get people to pay attention to the issue, and talk about it a bunch and try to explain why it’s a big deal, people may think you’re smearing your ex, and that you’re obsessed with him and harassing him. If you put work into trying to get them to care instead of being neutral and hanging out with your abuser, they will wonder why you’re trying so hard and look down on you for being needy. They may think it’s aggressive that you’re trying to turn people against your abuser. And other people just interpret it as “drama” and then look negatively at both sides without giving much thought to the details. These are some of the ways victims get a bad result when they try to explain the issue to people who keep associating with their abuser. I’ve received reactions like this when trying to talk about what’s been done to me. I initially thought the fact that the abuse against me had crossed the line into crime would get most people to take it seriously, but I was wrong, and it disturbs me to consider what that’s like for victims of rape or physical domestic abuse.

When people think, say or act like the victim is overreacting, that legitimizes the abuser. It makes the abuser feel justified. If he’d really done something very bad, people would be calling him out, right? But DD and his associates have never called out Andy (or any of the other harassers) or asked them to stop or made any statement that they think harassment is bad.

DD Isn’t Neutral

DD (who was my mentor, colleague and friend for a decade) isn’t even the unfair and inadequate sort of neutral, though. When asked to say he thinks harassment is bad, he refused, and instead lied about me in a way that suggests I’m the primary abuser in the situation (DD lied that I’d broken several no contact requests from him). He didn’t even try to pretend to stay out of it like a host inviting both me and my stalker to the same party; DD was willing to lie, in writing, about documented facts, in order to falsely call me out, while refusing to call out anyone abusing me. DD is actively encouraging his social group to exclude and mistreat me, and has zero remorse when his followers DDoS me, threaten IRL harm, use a false identity to try to lure another of DD’s former friends (a physicist who DD had spent time with in person) to an IRL meetup, and more.

Lying about me to attack my reputation – particularly in a way that seems designed to justify and encourage additional harassment – is abuse, by DD, against me. (Note: It doesn’t justify harassment in fact. Even if I’d broken no contact requests as DD falsely claimed, it’d still be wrong to harass me. Similarly, please do not respond to DD’s harassment of me by DDoSing him, threatening him, stalking him, or otherwise harassing him. As far as I know, no one in my community has harassed anyone in their community, and I’d like to keep it that way.)

DD not only refused to disavow Andy or ask the harassment to stop, he also took the initiative to abuse me himself, which is a pretty clear signal to Andy and others to keep abusing me too.

I’ve tried to address this privately but DD and his friends are unwilling to and the harassment has been going on for 2.5 years and counting. I’ve asked to discuss a deescalation or truce; they won’t even consider it. The best explanation is that they don’t want a solution and are doing this on purpose. DD is more powerful and influential than me, so there’s not much I can do besides speak truth to power and hope some people will be reasonable enough to listen, care, and push back.

Abusers and No Contact

Some people in our culture, especially on the left, have recognized the problem where abusers stay in a social circle and the victim gets pushed out. They’ve tried to correct this by being more sympathetic to victims and socially ostracizing abusers. We see this in #MeToo and in people helping out with no contact requests (e.g. Joan goes no contact with her abuser, and then other people in Joan’s social circle also go no contact with him).

#MeToo and recent no contact and abuse ideas are aimed at real problems, but they’re also problematic. “Believe all women” makes it easier for some women to lie and be believed (but on the other hand, making all victims go through trials can be traumatic for them and is one of the reasons that some victims don’t report crimes). And people who are in the wrong, or in messy situations where both sides are flawed, often accuse the other side of being an abuser. Some bullies accuse their victims of being abusers and use the language of victimhood to gain sympathy and amplify their bullying.

There are many articles about going no contact which basically assume that the person going no contact is always right. Many articles don’t mention any need to give a reason or explanation for going no contact. People can just go no contact and be assumed to be right. Then, if the person being ghosted tries to argue back, they can be yelled at (typically by the no contacter’s friends) for breaking no contact (even if they speak on their own website or in private chats, it can be called problematic because the no contacter wants to be left alone and the person being ghosted should just shut up and stop defending themselves). Most (but not all) articles about no contact do at least say you have tell the person you want no contact, instead of just starting to ghost them and expecting them to guess it (and getting angry when they send you messages like “Hey, not sure what’s going on. Please explain?” which you interpret as violating your consent.)

Storytime

So, on the one hand, DD and friends are not paying attention to these modern, somewhat-lefty anti-abuse ideas (that are partly good and partly bad) since they are like “eh who cares if we enable an abuser; your no contact requests to him (that he constantly breaks) are not our problem”.

But on the other hand, they are actually using these modern, somewhat-lefty anti-abuse ideas against me. DD tells people I’m an abuser, that he went no contact with me, and that I’ve broken his “several” no contact requests. DD has then gotten other people in his social circle to go no contact with me in order to take DD’s side and protect him from his alleged abuser, me. The problems with that are that I’ve never abused DD, none of them have ever made a no contact request to me, none of them have explained anything I did wrong. If DD’s lies were true, it’d be reasonable for people in DD’s social group to avoid me (at least if I wasn’t a crime victim, which is actually a good reason to take a break from ghosting, but they won’t acknowledge that or make any claim that Andy’s actions are or aren’t crimes, and the people possessing evidence about Andy’s crimes or identity have refused to provide it to me). The problem is he’s lying to abuse the no contact system as a way to abuse me by tricking other people into ghosting me. And, simultaneously, DD won’t acknowledge the no contact system exists when it comes to an actual abuser, Andy, who will not leave me alone.

Despite none of them actually requesting no contact, the only thing I’ve been contacting them about is how they keep being friends with an abuser and publicly encourage him, and also how some of them have also done abusive things themselves, e.g. lying that I threatened them with violence (that person, Dennis, did that somewhere he thought I wouldn’t see it, and admitted his claim was false when I found out … and then he, as a moderator, let Andy, Brett and others respond to his retraction of that smear by flaming me and essentially arguing why I still deserve harassment anyway. He also refused to apologize and only retracted it because he knew his action had been illegal).

It’s perverse how DD is lying to the more enlightened (re abuse and no contact) people that I’m an abuser in order to get them to mistreat me, while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge any such enlightened ideas exist when it comes to Andy’s abuses and even crimes.

And it’s perverse that the lies DD and others tell about me are mostly done privately so that I’ve been unable to respond to the accusations. I just see the results like people I don’t know ghosting me or people I’ve had friendly talks with abruptly ghosting me. The only people in my entire life who have done these behaviors are DD’s fans who interact on Twitter with people like Lulie, Brett and Bruce. DD is apparently such a habitual liar that even when he knew he was writing to my proxy, he still lied about me in a blatant, factually-verifiable way (it wasn’t a matter of opinion). He’s not able to turn the lies off, which gives a pretty good indication of what he says and does when it’s off the record in friendly company. (Also, back when he was my friend, he used to say mean-but-clever insults about public figures to me, as well as about non-public-figures he had contact with. They were frequently tangential and I often didn’t respond at all; I’d just keep talking about the philosophy topic; but he kept doing it anyway. So I know he’s a gossip who’s eager to privately flame people he dislikes. And I know he now dislikes me. I will provide documentation if DD disputes having done this in our conversations.)

To reiterate: Neither DD nor any of his friends has made a no contact request to me or something similar. I’m not violating that kind of thing.

I have tried to go no contact with “Andy B” but he keeps using sock puppets and hacking tools to continue stalking and harassing me. DD and friends say who cares, not their problem (or at least I’ve gotten that impression; mostly they won’t say anything and try to hide behind the ambiguity of not stating their position), and keep including Andy B in their social group. They also take actions to harass me, e.g. Brett saying hateful flames about me to Andy, and DD lying to smear me, which clearly encourage Andy’s campaign. They refuse to even make a statement like “we think harassment is bad and even people we don’t like should not be harassed”.

DD has lied about me. I don’t know the full extent and details of the lying. He and his associates have gotten people to ghost me by lying. None of them will tell me what the accusations against me are, discuss the matter with me, or allow any defense. People have been tricked into being haters and being DD’s pawns. All I actually did to DD was write a handful of articles criticizing his ideas and public statements, e.g. a rebuttal to his attack on Ayn Rand (if there’s something else, no one has bothered to tell me before hating me for it, so that I could change it or possibly correct a misunderstanding). He broke a bunch of obligations to me and destroyed our friendship, but when he dumped me with little explanation I left him alone until I realized he’d been spending years getting people to be toxic towards me and that the toxicity had gotten bad enough to cause severe harassment against me and my community. Then I privately let him know and tried repeatedly for months to deal with the problem privately. But he ghosted me and got his associates to ghost, so deescalation is impossible and in the meantime I get abused by the militant wing of their group. The major abuse started 2.5 years ago and has been a nightmare.

I get why people wouldn’t want to speak to me when they think DD already explained what I was doing wrong, at length, multiple times, and believe that I responded in such an abusive, irrational way, repeatedly, that 3+ no contact requests were DD’s only option, followed by ghosting when I still kept messaging him. And I understand why people who believed that would think “I need to contact DD now because Andy is abusing me” would seem like an excuse to break the no contact requests. The thing is, that never happened. It’s a complete fabrication. It’s such a bold and thorough lie, with no factual basis, that it’s hard to believe anyone would lie that much. (The reason DD is lying that much is, in short, as my best guess, his irrationality. He needed a narrative to justify parting ways with me in his own mind, so he told himself that I’m irrational and bad, and can’t be reasoned with. He needed a narrative like that because he considered me the smartest person, fastest learner and best editor of his book that he had to talk with, so there had to be some kind of excuse to get rid of that. He also needed a reason for ceasing the common preference finding, rational problem solving, “all problems are soluble” attitude, etc., that he’s written about. Since DD has such a public reputation for rationality, it’s especially hard for anyone to believe the root cause is his irrationality. But rational abstract philosophical theories, which DD is good at, are often a separate matter than rational personal conduct. Is there a better explanation about what’s going on? No one has suggested one to me.) So DD is abusing me with his lies that trick others into mistreating me.

Conclusion

I don’t know what else to do, and I’m a writer, so I’m writing down what’s going on and what I think about it. I’ve written some before but I didn’t know then that DD was actively lying about me to cause my nightmare, and I didn’t understand the situation as well. I think truth and sunlight and public knowledge of events will make things better for me. I don’t have anything to hide. A lot of this situation can be discussed publicly, so it makes sense for both sides to write out their case publicly, at least once (and then people can be referred to that, like an FAQ, without having to re-explain the issue). But DD and his side won’t state any case nor refute anything I’m saying. They are leaving the public state of the debate as: they have no arguments, I do, and they have no criticism of any of my arguments. They won’t provide any allegations against me like a fair trial. I hope people will judge accordingly. Supposing hypothetically that I’m right, what more could I do?

I’m trying to treat them fairly. I gave them the benefit of the doubt initially and I tried to speak with them privately multiple times and I’ve been slow to air issues publicly. I’m explaining stuff so that, if I’m wrong about any of this, someone could point out my error. I’m exposing my story, with a lot of detail, to criticism. I wish they’d do the same. I don’t know any better way to approach problem solving. I can’t just drop it because their side won’t drop it – I’m still being harassed. They won’t leave me alone and also won’t explain their side. They won’t state demands, terms for truce, grievances, etc. I hope people will see that it makes sense to ask them what their side of the story is and, if they won’t answer, then take my side and support me.

When writing about this, my main goal is that anyone who approaches this objectively and fairly, and tries to understand, will be able to see my point. I’m also enabling problem solving: it gives DD, Andy and others the opportunity to learn what they’re doing wrong (an opportunity that I want, but which they deny me) and how to fix the situation, as well as the opportunity to refute what I’m saying (another opportunity that I want, but which they deny me). It also lets any third party correct me if they see a mistake I’m making – which I’d appreciate. I’m trying to do the rational thing by writing and sharing this.


Elliot Temple on May 3, 2021

Messages (1)

> When writing about this, my main goal is that anyone who approaches this objectively and fairly, and tries to understand, will be able to see my point.

Even though I'm somewhat familiar with a lot of the backstory, this post was good and helped me understand things more deeply. Thanks.

I have some new ideas about how I'll act in future (regarding the harrassment issue and broader hypocracy of the relevant critrats); tho the ideas aren't well formed yet.


Max at 4:39 PM on May 6, 2021 | #1 | reply | quote

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