Unfollowing Bora

I see Bora’s decided he’s spent enough time in the penalty box, and has returned to the social media world. This move was classic: mention you moved your blog from Scientific American, but fail to mention why, as if sexually harassing several women is just a minor whoops you needn’t bring up, then paste on a butthurt addendum saying you had no idea you should apologize again. That, combined with the fact he’s so pleased to have his balls lovingly sucked in public by his good buddy Anton Zuiker and assorted harassment-denying hangers-on, tells me he hasn’t learned a damned thing.

My worst fears are thus confirmed, much to my utter and complete lack of surprise: he isn’t a man who realizes he fucked up and will do everything necessary to make amends. No, he’s a predator who’s too bloody stupid to move on to a fresh victim pool.

I’ve nothing more to say to him. There’s a smidgeon of residual appreciation rattling around for his having been the one to offer me a blog on SciAm, but his actions have definitely shrunk it. I’m still trying to scrub his stink off the walls over there, and while I’m reasonably certain I got the job by virtue of SciAm wanting another geosciences writer and me being one with the free time to do it, plus the friends to push me forward,* he’s made many other women wonder if he gave their careers a boost because he believed in them or because they gave him trouser-tingles.** That infuriates me, and his actions throughout this long saga of wrong have left me disinclined to ever welcome him back. He could have left bridges intact and possibly in crossing condition when he apologized, resigned his positions, and left. He burned them to molecules by traipsing back the way he did, as if the turning of a calendar page had made it all better.


Like Physioproffe says,

Key to demonstrating true contrition is making the following clear to those who have been wronged: (1) I respect your right to have no dealings with me, now or ever; (2) my efforts at making amends are driven not by my selfish interest in regaining the rights, privileges, and power I have lost as a consequence of my violations of trust; (3) I embrace the fact that no matter what I do, trust may never be restored, yet I still make amends and demonstrate my trustworthiness on an ongoing sustained basis.

None of which Bora has done by strutting back the way he has, demanding his victims tell him what to do if people feel he hasn’t done enough. Fuck that noise. That’s a predator’s actions, and have nothing to do with a desire to make things right.

I’ve got nothing much more to say about him that Martin Robbins hasn’t already said in a guest post on Janet Stemwedel’s excellent blog, but one thing there gave the old synapses a jog:

The three women who spoke out suddenly find themselves thrust by Bora into the unwanted position of public judge, jury and executioner, dragged into the middle of his personal redemption drama, and put under enormous public pressure by someone who remains a key community figure with 20,000+ Twitter followers. [emphasis added]

That made me realize I hadn’t unfollowed the rat bastard when he scuttled away in disgrace. I’ve remedied that, and invite you to join me. Unollow him on Twitter, uncircle him on G+, unfriend him on Facebook – clear him out of your social media feeds if, like me, you’d rather not let a predator think he can return to the flock as if all is well. If you’re in charge of conferences, don’t invite him to participate in any capacity; don’t hire him for jobs within the community; don’t offer him support or credibility. Don’t let him step into his old shoes as if nothing had happened and he won’t return to his old victimizing ways. It’s clear from his behavior that he hasn’t learned a damned thing, and will continue not to learn if we accept him back with open arms.

The only way we’re going to get through to these predatory fuckheads – or at the very least, remove their social capital in order to limit the damage they can do – is by excising them from our communities like a cancer. Show them the consequences of their actions is serious and long-lasting. Yes, even if they’re as seemingly nice and useful as Bora. Yes, even if we loved them a lot (and if they were our blogfathers), and still wish they hadn’t turned out to be such awful gits. Yes, even if they accepted some penalties, proffered a bit of an apology, and faded out of sight for a short while. Until they can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they understand the gravity of their actions and are fully committed to never offending again, they need to be locked firmly out. And if we decide never to let them back in, well, them’s the tough breaks when someone’s chosen to shatter trust. Too bloody bad.

We have plenty of talent to draw on. We don’t need the predators. For the sake of the community, we need to stop letting them back in.


*If I’d been his first choice, I’d be among the doubters right now, and likely triply-furious with an extra topping of rage.

**Having read their work, I’d like to observe at this point that all of them are outstanding writers. They have nothing to doubt when it comes to being among the best writers going. They unquestionably are.

Unfollowing Bora
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14 thoughts on “Unfollowing Bora

  1. rq

    One of these days, one of these people will do it right, and it will be beautiful.
    In the meantime, I don’t have much to say. Just some *hugs*. I’m not even on Twitter, so I can’t unfollow him in solidarity. But I would, if I was. :)

  2. 3

    I read Bora’s original January 1st blog post where he mentioned, almost in passing, that he’d left SciAm. It was the second thing he mentioned as happening in October, after talking about going to Budapest but not writing about his visit. That set off alarm bells because I knew why he was forced to resign from SciAm (and ScienceOnline). Bora obviously thought our collective memories were so short we couldn’t remember he was a sexual harasser.

    After it became obvious that people did remember why Bora was so toxic that SciAm and SciO forced him out, he made his oh by the way I did screw up, didn’t I? addendum. He wants to go back to the way it was before his behavior was exposed.

    None of which Bora has done by strutting back the way he has, demanding his victims tell him what to do if people feel he hasn’t done enough. Fuck that noise. That’s a predator’s actions, and have nothing to do with a desire to make things right.

    I didn’t see any awareness that Bora realizes what exactly was so bad about what he had done. He’s like a small child, caught in a lie and wondering why Mommy is so angry about him lying. Bora knows people are angry at him but he seems to think we’re overreacting. He still does not understand what he did was predatory. He seeks reassurance and forgiveness without understanding why he needs to ask.

    I’m not going to discuss Anton Zuiker’s ode to root vegetables and Bora other than to say it appears Anton is cut in the same pattern as Bora.

  3. rq

    One of these days I’ll actually read Zuiker’s piece, just to see what those root vegetables are all about. Everyone keeps mentioning them. Right now, though, I kinda don’t feel like it.

  4. 7

    Yep. He needs to find a new home, enjoy this one as a visitor, occasionally, but only by passive methods, not passive-aggressive ones. Read the blogs of your old friends. Don’t comment. Watch video of panels you might have attended. Don’t go, don’t comment. That’s the only level of interaction your old community owes you: no more than any other member of the distant public. And in fact, you have less right: you shouldn’t be forcing the people you foisted your incompetence on to have to spend spoons on working around your unwanted presence.

    Move on, dude. And know that you’ll need to be open about where you’re coming from, when you get there, because the Internet cannot forget. And even if no one ever says a word to your new community, Google Exists.

    Well said, Dana. 100% agreement. The community, like any, will be better for everyone when it has fewer predatory people in it. Making space for known predators just makes you need future space for more.

  5. 9

    Thanks for the reminder, Dana. I’d unfollowed him on Twitter back in October, but I just checked on G+ and noticed I had him in two circles. He’s off both.

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