Relevant Magazine, Hugo Schwyzer, and a thing called grace

Trigger warnings for rape, abuse, stalking

I believe in a thing called grace.

Really, I do. I believe people can change, and when people change, I believe in giving those people a second chance. But here’s the thing.

Life’s complicated.

Because, sometimes, showing “grace” to one person means denying grace from another.

Here’s an example: You have a child molester who has raped and abused young children. This child molester meets Jesus. Jesus changes said child molester.

Great!

But what if this child molester decides he wants to start coming to church? What if he decides he wants to work in the church nursery with children?

Do you show him “grace” by forgetting his past and letting him do so?

I think you all know the answer to that question.

Now, hypothetical situations aside, we need to talk about Relevant Magazine  and Hugo Schwyzer.

Relevant Magazine, a site that claims to herald progressive Christianity, recently published an article by Hugo Schwyzer. You may not recognize that name, and I doubt Relevant did either when they published his article. But a quick Google search will reveal his disturbing past.

According to Grace from “Are Women Human?:”

Hugo Schwyzer lied for several years about his attempt to kill a woman - on one occasion, falsely describing his attempt to kill his girlfriend and himself as only a suicide attempt that “accidentally” endangered her.

Grace explains more (and provides documentation) in her article here (which I encourage you all to read).

So, our pal Hugo is a repentant abuser.

Now, let me repeat, I BELIEVE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE, and if you skip down to the comments section without reading this whole post and leave me a pat answer like, “God changes people!” I may just have to cry.

But Hugo, a man who has committed very serious crimes against women, is now writing articles at Relevant Magazine about women’s issues. And there are some problems with that.

The first problem is, Relevant refuses to disclose Schwyzer’s past. There was no disclaimer on the article, no mention of his abuse in the article.

Not only that, but Relevant actively silenced voices that informed readers of Schwyzer’s past. 

My friend Dianna Anderson, from diannaeanderson.net, posted a comment that was deleted.

I posted the article by Grace (above) on Relevant’s Facebook page. Not only was my comment deleted, but I was blocked from Relevant’s Facebook page, even though my post containing the article contained no profanities or hateful words.

Several of my twitter friends then tried posting the article to Relevant’s page. Their comments were also deleted.

If you can’t see why this is a problem, let me remind you of the hypothetical scenario that I mentioned above–if there was a repentant child molester working in your church nursery, wouldn’t you want to know about it?

Similarly, I, as an abuse survivor, would like to know that the man writing articles at a once-trusted Christian website is a former abuser. I would like to know so that I can be cautious about the comments I leave on his article. So I can be cautious about linking my blog to the article. So I can be cautious about following this man on Twitter.

Yet, people like Relevant writer Max Dubinsky can’t seem to understand this. Dubinsky stated in a conversation on Relevant’s Facebook: “How would everyone here like it if every time you spoke or wrote something, you had to disclose the worst thing you’ve ever done for everyone to hear and read?”

Dubinsky’s comment considers only the feelings of the abuser, and not the feelings of survivors.

And here’s where MY question comes in to play, for Relevant, Dubinsky, and all other Christians who would ignore the concerns of survivors in order to defend former abusers: Who gets your grace?

Because if you can’t see why former abusers should have to disclose their abuse before having an article published on an interactive Christian website, then you have no grace for abuse victims. 

Secondly, this argument isn’t just about Hugo Schwyzer’s past. He continues to write articles that make even a sex-positive feminist such as myself a bit uncomfortable (here’s one entitled “He Wants to Jizz on Your Face, but Not Why You Think” written in January of 2012).

And, the man has no sense of boundaries. None, whatsoever.

I spent last night in an impassioned Twitter discussion about the recent Relevant Magazine article, and how uncomfortable it made me feel. Several of my Twitter friends joined in to express their discomfort as well.

And as we talked about how nervous Schwyzer made us…

Schwyzer tried to follow some of us on Twitter.

He even “favorited” a tweet of mine in which I was talking about how uncomfortable he made me. It was as if he was saying, “I’m watching you. I see what you’re saying about me. I see how I’m making you feel. And I like it.”

I had a panic attack upon seeing that he’d favorited my tweet, and I cried for about 20 minutes.

And I still wonder, why? Why would a man who has completely changed “favorite” a tweet by a woman that felt uncomfortable reading his articles? Why would a man who no longer wants to hurt women attempt to force his online presence upon women who clearly did not want that presence?

The answer is, he wouldn’t.

Hugo Schwyzer may not be trying to murder women anymore. But he is still deliberately attempting to make them feel uncomfortable. He is still relishing their discomfort. Admitting, via Twitter, that seeing these feelings in women is a “favorite” of his.

Yet, Relevant refuses to inform readers of this man’s past. Relevant continues to give this man an undisputed platform in progressive Christianity.

They do this in the name of grace.

But again I say, who gets your grace? 

“Grace” to abusers at the expense of survivors is not the grace of Jesus.

“Grace” that allows abusers to continue to harm women unchecked is not the grace of Jesus.

This “grace” that Relevant claims to be giving Hugo Schwyzer by publishing his articles and refusing to include a disclaimer about his past is NOT grace to survivors. It is NOT grace to women. And, really, it is NOT grace to Schwyzer to allow him to continue to participate in circles where he is working with the people he once abused without holding him accountable.

Check your idea of grace, Relevant Magazine.

It’s not the grace of Jesus. 

If you are as bothered this whole situation as I was, please sign my petition asking Relevant magazine to include a disclaimer about Schwyzer’s past with any future articles by him. I think it’s a reasonable request that would show grace to survivors and commenters who might be reluctant to have Schwyzer know their information. I also think it may help keep Schwyzer accountable and may dissuade him from further Twitter-stalking episodes like the one described above. The link to the petition is here. Thank you very much. 

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  • Katherine

    I want nothing more than to forward this post to Feministing so they can make a big blogosphere splash about it. I want to personally write them a letter asking them to cover it because so few people within our Christian community seem to be taking this seriously. I want to withhold financial donations from the Good Women Project for also featuring one of Hugo’s essays. Unfortunately, I am not sure where this lands within the boundaries of grace. Oh how I would love for Jessica Valenti to cover this, though.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      yeah, I sure wish people would start paying attention. I was disappointed in Good Women Project too, especially since that’s supposed to be even more of a “safe space” than Relevant. :/

    • http://www.dianndia.blogspot.com Dianna

      I asked Valenti, and she said Schwyzer never worked for them. It’s Feministe you’re thinking of, which is a different blog altogether. :)

  • Rachel

    While having this discussion, it’s important to not silence the voices of victims of other issues -like mental illness. When I read that Schwyzer’s suicide attempt was really a deliberate attempt to murder his girlfriend, all I heard, as a survivor of severe depression and desperation, is once again that I was being manipulative, that I was in control of myself, that I all needed to do was snap out of it. That suicide is selfish and greedy and about attention, when really it is about desperation and finding solutions and trying to escape. I used to be very, very sick and when I read his words it seems like he was, too. When I read the hateful words on the blog post you linked to…the terrible things she wrote about suicide victims, I became so angry that I cried. Please stop trying to attribute motives to him unless you know for sure what his motives were.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      I think the problems Grace is pointing out in her article are the fact that he lied about this incident, he covered it up, and his version of remorse is comparing it to sadness felt over accidently killing a dog.

      As a former-suicide survivor myself, I apologize if this post made you feel uncomfortable. I don’t think Grace was at all painting suicide as selfish, but was discussing the dangers of Schwyzer attempting to kill someone and then refusing to show true change once he had improved.
      I’m very sorry that you saw otherwise in the article. I don’t believe that Grace was at all trying to accuse Schwyzer of not being sick, but of refusing to admit the full implications of his past sickness and refusing to take steps to heal and to let survivors of abuse heal.

      We need to not silence those who suffer mental illness, and maybe you’re correct that Schwyzer was mentally ill, but what he did was still domestic violence. What he did still put a woman’s life in danger, and he still needs to be held accountable for that. He might not have been control of himself during the attempt, but that just gives all the more reason for places like Relevant to warn people of his past.

      • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

        And, I’ll add that we do need to have grace for Schwyzer, because I’m sure he does have some mental illness. That grace needs to come partially in the form of keeping him accountable in situations where he may have a chance to harm others. That grace doesn’t look like just letting Schwyzer do whatever he wants anymore than my boyfriend letting me kill myself rather than taking me to the doctor when I was suicidal would have been grace.

    • http://arewomenhuman.wordpress.com Grace

      Rachel, I think you misunderstand the situation. Hugo has now deleted the post where he states that what he previously claimed was a “suicide attempt” that accidentally endangered his girlfriend was in fact a deliberate attempt to murder her. But those were his *own words*. He said it was just a suicide attempt for years, and then changed his story. I don’t think his decision to lie about his behavior and deliberately manipulate his readers is at all a reflection on suicidal people in general.

      I’m not aware of any terrible things I wrote about suicide victims in my post, but especially as someone who has chronic depression and has struggled with suicidal thoughts more than once in the past, I certainly don’t want to write anything that victim blames anyone who is suicidal. I’ll revisit the post to see if there’s anything that needs to be rewritten and also ask for feedback from others. But there’s a huge, huge difference between suicide and murder-suicide. I think it would be a real mistake to conflate the two.

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.blogspot.com from two to one

    I’ve been thinking about how the Good Women Project may be collateral damage for publishing Schwyzer and utilizing him as a mentor. I think the project itself is a great resource for women and girls, but given that so many (in general, and those who frequent the site) are victims and survivors of abuse, I think it’s irresponsible to have him in that role. I’ve actually signed up to be a mentor with GWP and will ask them about this more. As for forwarding to Feministing, my biggest concern is that a constructive conversation about grace will be lost on the secular platform. Thoughts?

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      I hope the Good Woman Project will acknowledge this mistake too. I think they’re doing good stuff over there, but publishing HS was irresponsible.

      I honestly don’t read Feministing so I don’t know how graceful they are. But grace is not limited to the Christian realm. I go to a secular university, attend a secular feminist group and have many secular friends. Grace is not only for the Christians.

      • http://suzannahpaul.blogspot.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

        i had a conversation on twitter with lauren two months ago when i first noticed her RTing HS. i linked her to grace’s post and encouraged her to be wary of GWP’s endorsing him. perhaps relevant didn’t know, but she did.

        she blew off my concerns, appealing to forgiveness and “supporting a brother.” she basically said it was my christian duty to drop it. i cannot understand how some people’s desire for male “allies” leads them to willfully overlook SO MANY red flags.

        also, independent of feminist and abuse concerns (which are myriad), as far as i can tell from posts at jezebel & his own site, his sexual ethic bears little resemblance to anything resembling christian teaching. why are christians so eager to give this guy a mic about sex and women’s issues?

      • Anonymous

        Grace may not only be for xians, but it certainly has no place in atheism/skepticism.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          I know graceful Christians and graceful atheists/skeptics. Are you people really going to try to have this fight here? This is not about atheists vs. Christians. This is about not enabling abuse. Go to Reddit if you want to argue Atheism vs. Christianity. You try to do it here, and with the mood I’m in right now, you will get blocked. Thanks.

          • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

            note: I am not the most graceful of Christians today.

      • Widdy

        Actually, by definition, grace *is* only for christians.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          I know graceful Christians and graceful atheists/skeptics. Are you people really going to try to have this fight here? This is not about atheists vs. Christians. This is about not enabling abuse. Go to Reddit if you want to argue Atheism vs. Christianity. You try to do it here, and with the mood I’m in right now, you will get blocked. Thanks.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          I know graceful Christians and graceful atheists/skeptics. Are you people really going to try to have this fight here? This is not about atheists vs. Christians. This is about not enabling abuse. Go to Reddit if you want to argue Atheism vs. Christianity. You try to do it here, and with the mood I’m in right now, you will get blocked. Thanks.

  • http://danileekelley.wordpress.com Dani

    This entire situation makes my skin crawl, and makes me extremely thankful that I never heard back from my application to be a designer at Relevant.

    Actions speak louder than words – in this case, the active hiding of his past (which is DIRECTLY relevant (see what I did there?) with his involvement in feminism) along with his cyber-stalking dissenting voices scream “abuser!” much louder than his insistence that everything’s okay.

    It’s just always incredibly disturbing to see time and time and time again members of the body stand on the side of abusers, generally kicking the victims as they walk by. I hate it. No wonder people hate us.

  • http://lovekristinnicole.blogspot.com Kristin

    I may have commented something like this before, but this is how I felt when my abuser was praised by our pastor in the MIDDLE OF THE SERMON on Sunday morning…more than once. I cried, sitting in my seat.
    Maybe the pastor didn’t know the whole story, but he sure knew SOME of it; it was a small church and he and his wife were kind of our mentors. If there is any question, why go there?
    No grace for us survivors. :(

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      I know the feeling. I remember being highly pressured by pastors to forgive my abuser shortly after I escaped the abuse.

  • http://bluebonnetreads.wordpress.com Hannah C.

    Wow. I used to like Relevant, but with the way they’ve been acting I don’t think I can anymore. I disagree with their deletion of all these comments. Even if the disagreeing comments were false (which I’m pretty sure they weren’t), they shouldn’t have deleted them – they should have posted rebuttals…

    I also like GWP, but didn’t know they published HS and am disappointed that they aren’t taking all this into account.

    Hugs to you, Sarah, and to anyone else who wants them. I am not a victim of abuse and can’t imagine what it must be like to deal with this HS thing from that point of view.

    Also, it really p!sses me off that victims of abuse are so often treated so poorly. :( So freaking wrong.

    • http://bluebonnetreads.wordpress.com Hannah C.

      Not to mention, of course, all the issues with publishing HS in the first place on Relevant’s part…

  • http://heretichusband.blogspot.com Heretic Husband

    Ugh. My wife and I are dealing with a situation like this right now. Her father was forced into admitting that he molested one of her brothers but he won’t tell the deacons of the church where he pastors and leads the youth group.

    And when we try to confront him about this, we’re accused of being “unforgiving”. After all, God has forgiven him! Its in the past! And the incident didn’t even happen while he was pastoring this church! (Not sure what that has to do with it).

    -HH

    • http://bluebonnetreads.wordpress.com Hannah C.

      …woah. If I was in a situation like that I would probably go to the deacons myself. But I don’t know what I would do for sure. Praying for you and your family.

      • http://heretichusband.blogspot.com Heretic Husband

        Thanks. It might come to that.

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  • kmv

    It seems to me that helping a repentent abuser hide from his past actions is the opposite of extending grace.

  • modernreject

    Sarah, thank you for writing about this important issue. I had no idea and I so appreciate your openness, honesty, and courage.

    Grace is a gift. It is not an excuse.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/hazelYZ Elizabeth Zartarian

    You know you are sitting here judging an individual you do not know. Mr Schwyzer had a time in his past which many of us can say we have had(it may not include abuse, but alcohol drugs, emotional instability . To judge him on actions in his life where he has truly changed as an individual is wrong and immoral. I’m not saying he found “God” or any kind of bs people like to state that “God Changed him”. That’s not what I’m saying but to judge him on something that he has always been open about, is wrong. Mr Schwyzer has a past, a past he has been honest about.
    Why do you label him as an abuser when it was one event? Has he ever done this before or ever again? If one time you become abusive are you always supposed to be called an abuser? Look if you think it is right to judge a man who truly has changed, who is only trying to make a difference in women’s lives then shame on you. He is honest about what he has done he never hid it from anyone. Personally I think he is probably more open about his own history then you are. Don’t judge by one event. Look at the good he has done, and what he continues to do.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Did you read this post? And did you read Grace’s that I linked to above? If you’ve read both and still can’t see the problem, then I am not even going to waste my breathe arguing with you at the moment. I’m too tired.

    • AMM

      Hardly “one event.” HS has a long and sordid history in the blogosphere. His attempted murder of his girlfriend is only the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps more relevant is his ongoing habit (described on his blog) of using his position as a professor at a local college in California to seduce his female students. In this context, what little “good he has done” seems intended mainly to get him into positions of trust where he can better exploit impressionable young women. And he shows no signs of actually changing; his recent Jezebel articles show that pretty well.

      When people and organizations promote people like HS while hiding or minimizing his past, they encourage potential victims to trust him. They help him victimize more people, while making it clear to his past, present, and future victims that they will support his version of what happens over his victims’ experience.

      The problem with all this “forgive and forget” is that it isn’t about “grace”, however you define it. It’s really just a way of pretending that we can wish the Evil in the world away if we just sing Kumbaya enough. And it ends up allowing the practitioners to feel virtuous while enabling Evil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.spragge John Godfrey Spragge

    I signed your petition, not without hesitation.

    *** trigger warning — child rape ***

    By way of analogy: from the time I was sixteen until I was twenty-three, the choirmaster of the church my family and I attended was a serial child rapist. He eventually plead guilty to thirteen counts of child rape and went to jail on a (lenient) plea bargain. His rapes led to two suicides, one of a young man I knew personally.

    This man has now served his sentence. I believe that no church should allow him to have any place in direct music ministry, ever again. As a choir master, organist, or even a singer, he has shown himself profoundly dangerous. However, he also wrote music, and I would not object to my church playing one of his pieces. Christianity teaches me that if I want to believe in my own redemption, I have to believe in redemption for others. I have to believe the good in them, in this case the talent to write music, can outweigh the evil. And I believe in the obligation to give good the opportunity to overcome evil when we can do it without endangering innocent people. Having this man lead a choir would be dangerous and irresponsible. Playing his music is not.

    As I said, this is an analogy, Hugo has never done anything remotely as bad as the person I have described. But the analogy illustrates the question: does allowing Hugo to post in Relevant without disclosing his history endanger anyone? And I have to agree with Sarah Moon that posting an article and inviting comments means opening a conversation, and it seems clear and reasonable to me that some people consider it essential to their own safety that they know who they are having that conversation with.

    Also, Relevant believes in forgiveness and redemption. As a Christian, I affirm that. They should say so, celebrate their decision, and stand behind it. Not disclosing Hugo’s past behaviour, not stating their belief in his redemption, serves nobody. Not even Hugo, since he has chosen to make public his own past.

  • nonny mouse

    I think music, for the most part, is different from teaching and preaching and writing essays about men and women and sex and feminism. It’s not that people want everything about him shunned just for the sake of shunning. It’s that he’s using that public platform to create *more* harm; the actual content of what he says is also often a problem.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.spragge John Godfrey Spragge

      Please explain exactly how Hugo created harm by writing the article he wrote for Relevant. I can see how someone interacting with Hugo without knowing his story might feel violated and in that sense harmed. But simply reading an essay, with no contact with the author seems unlikely to lead to any harm.

      • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

        it does make Relevant’s readers who do know about his past feel highly uncomfortable and triggered. I know that’s how I felt.

        Also, just…why is he writing about women’s issues? Go ahead, Hugo, and write to men telling them not to make the mistakes you made. But don’t tell ME how to feel about my body. We women can speak for ourselves.

        • Delacroix

          That’s how I feel about your comments towards other various articles he’s written. Who deigned you the savior of all women, Sarah Moon? If I don’t need a man to save me, I certainly don’t need you to tell me that it’s degrading for him to “jizz on my face.” My body, my rules–get your propaganda out of my internet space, and for God’s sake, stop acting as if the web has to conform to your patterns of ideology.

          • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

            If you like jizz in your face, cool! I’m pretty sex positive, so though I don’t jive with that particular sex act, I certainly won’t tell you it’s degrading for you, and I never did in this post.

            But I do find disturbing is a man (especially a man with Schwyzer’s past) trying to convince women that a certain sex act that many DO find degrading is actually not supposed to be. I mean…if a woman finds it degrading, who is Schwyzer to tell her otherwise? It goes both ways–I honestly find it uncomfortable when any man tries to talk women into any sex act that they aren’t initially comfortable with. It seems like a power move to me.

            Anyway, I’m certainly not putting on superhero tights and going around at night rescuing the “poor, helpless women” of the world from big, bad Hugo Schwyzer. I’m simply asking Relevant Magazine to disclose his past so that women can make an informed choice about interacting with him and I’m simply asking Relevant Magazine not to block and delete the comments of concerned women.

          • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

            Also, this makes no sense to me: “Get your propaganda out of my internet space, and for God’s sake, stop acting as if the web has to conform to your patterns of ideology.”

            Like, which is it? Does the web not have to conform to one pattern of ideology? Or do I have to get my propaganda out of your internet space?

        • http://www.facebook.com/john.spragge John Godfrey Spragge

          If reading an essay by Hugo makes you uncomfortable, then don’t read essays by Hugo. I don’t accept he has done you or anyone harm simply by writing, since you make the choice to read what he writes or not.

          • Katherine

            John, you are absolutely right! We don’t have to read HS’s articles if we don’t want to. However, what Sarah is primarily advocating is a trigger warning, so the readers can make an informed decision about whether or not to read the article. We want readers to be able to make that choice for themselves. I can look at one of his posts and see that he has a history of violence and abuse and say “that makes me uncomfortable, I don’t think I want to read this”. You may read the trigger warning and not be bothered by it, that’s fine too!

            Do we need a trigger warning for each writer’s past sins? Of course not. But abuse and attempted murder are serious enough offenses to make a significant amount of readership distraught and uncomfortable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/john.spragge John Godfrey Spragge

            I supported the call for a summary of Hugo’s past on his articles at Relevant because I agree with Sarah that a post on an interactive website invites people into a conversation, and in Hugo’s particular case, people may feel the need to know whom they are speaking to.

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  • Alasdair

    With respect: this story, more than anything else, is why I am not a Christian. Christians believe that a person can do terrible things, and then find Jesus and be ‘forgiven’, and that the rest of the world should then welcome and tolerate them. I do not believe that. I believe that if you do something terrible, you should bear the consequences of that for the rest of your life. Forgiveness is not a right: if individual people choose to forgive you, that’s their choice, but no one has the right to demand forgiveness from others.

    I don’t care how remorseful Schwyzer may be (not very, it seems), I for one want nothing to do with him, and I don’t think anybody who cares about women should have anything to do with him either.

    • http://bluebonnetreads.wordpress.com Hannah C.

      As a Christian, I don’t view forgiveness the way you described. You can forgive someone who was abusive to you and still refuse to have anything to do with them. Forgiveness is perhaps letting go of the bitterness and anger, not welcoming someone back with open arms no matter what they’ve done. *GOD* can do the latter. Sometimes,it is the appropriate human response as well. Other times, it is most definitely not.

  • Frank

    “Because, sometimes, showing “grace” to one person means denying grace from another.”

    A ridiculous premise for what follows as grace is in abundance. There is enough for everyone or else your god is too small.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Notice the word “grace” is in quotations. Because allowing a person to remain in a situation when he can continue to harm others is not really grace–to the abuser or the abused. My God is big enough to expand grace AND hold people accountable for their actions.

    • pmac430@yahoo.com

      When the abuser is given a platform and the survivor is drowned out, (such as having critical comments of Schwyzer being deleted–very graceful, that) it’s not a matter of someone’s “God [being] too small,” it’s a matter of telling the survivor–and other survivors–that they do not rate. It’s a matter of making an abuser feel comfortable at the expense of survivors–and silencing survivors.

      We matter, too. I wish the forgiveness movement folks would actually acknowledge that instead of giving head-pats and lectures.

      • http://www.facebook.com/john.spragge John Godfrey Spragge

        The woman survivor of Hugo’s story has not, so far, spoken. Plenty of people have effectively appropriated her voice, but she herself, for whatever reason, has never said anything. I do not believe that anyone has a right to speak for her; not another survivor or anyone else. To say that anyone has “drowned out” the survivor makes a series of assumptions for which I see no basis. Where does the assumption that the woman survivor of Hugo’s murder-suicide attempt objects to his having the ability to write come from? Not, from what I have read in this controversy, the survivor herself. From my perspective, to claim that anyone has the right to speak for a survivor, to claim that anyone can break or explain their silence, takes away our voices.

        Anyone who resents Hugo having a platform has complete freedom to say so, and complete freedom to not read him. I agree with Sarah’s request that Relevant inform readers of Hugo’s history so those who find interacting with him uncomfortable can skip his articles. But I insist on respect for the voices, and the silence, of survivors.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          *tilts head* *blink blink* …I think the point has been missed.

          • http://www.facebook.com/john.spragge John Godfrey Spragge

            Do you really think that insisting that survivors have a right to our voices, and our silence, misses the point of this issue, or of the comment I responded to? The claim that “the survivor is drowned out, (such as having critical comments of Schwyzer being deleted–very graceful, that)” seems to me to imply those comments came from, or reflected the feeling of, the actual woman who survived Hugo’s attempted murder/suicide. Either that, or the statement implies that all survivors speak with one voice.
            Either way, the argument has the same effect: the actual survivor loses their voice, their agency, their choices to somebody else.

  • Frank

    And to take one of your premises further:

    What is your greatest sin? Shouldn’t you share that with everyone before we read anything you write or take you seriously? Why not tattoo it our our foreheads so we all know who we are talking to?

    Ridiculous!

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      I’ve never tried to kill someone, certainly.

      your face is ridiculous.

      • Frank

        My face? haha! I didn’t realize I had entered the Playground Zone.

        Seriously though I support accountability and I recognize your frustration and share it. However we have promises from the bible that the oppressed, those that mourn, the persecuted will be blessed by God and God does not forget them. The victims will be cared for independently of what happens to the accused. Vengeance and judgement is the Lords business not ours and yes we should make sure that people who hurt people are not put in a position to hurt again however Gods grace covers their sins as well. We might not be comfortable with a child molester receiving Gods forgiveness but if we are truthful, we don’t deserve Gods forgiveness either.

        So where do we draw the line? A liar is as much of a sinner as a murderer.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          If you really can’t tell the difference between a liar and an attempted murder (especially since HS is both…he’s attempted murder and then covered it up) then I’m not even going to waste my breath arguing with you today.

          And it’s always the playground zone up in here.

        • http://suzannahpaul.blogspot.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

          we draw the line at accountability–which is neither judgment nor vengeance. this guy has not earned the privilege of speaking as the christian (or feminist) authority on sexuality or women’s issues.

          privilege and leadership, unlike grace, are earned and can be lost.

        • smrnda

          This is why I can’t accept. Christianity. If a kid tells me that he didn’t eat the cookies, big deal. If you kill someone, you’re seriously screwed in the head. Any God that things both are equal is nothing but an omnipotent mental case, on par with a guy who would shoot a guy for bumping into him out of clumsiness because it’s “an aggressive act” identical to getting a gun pulled on him. Grace is just a cheap trick the abuser or oppressor pulls out to turn the person they wronged into the bad guy instead of them. It’s a childish escape from accountability.

          Perhaps as someone who studied psychology I don’t think that people really change – abusers, rapists, murderers are really pretty different than most ordinary people in very key ways. Religious people are dumb enough sometimes to welcome folks like this back just for blithering the right platitudes.

          If anyone wants to know the worst thing I’ve done, it was drugs:-) If someone I should disclose, morally, what sort of person I am, I”m sure not an attempted murderer.

    • http://heretichusband.blogspot.com Heretic Husband

      If it relates to what she is writing about – yes. Otherwise, no. Is this really that complicated?

      • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

        I’ve been going back through my life trying to think of the worse “sin” I’ve ever committed and I realized that I’ve lived a fairly boring life. ”

        “…uh…I got drunk once. Sometimes I break the speed limit. I used to call my sister a ‘poop-head’ in elementary school.”

        • http://heretichusband.blogspot.com Heretic Husband

          Well, if you write an article about poopheadedness, I will expect a full confession. ;)

  • Frank

    And Sarah if you cannot understand the concept of grace and forgiveness you don’t deserve it yourself but you will get it anyways because that’s part of who God is. And so will Hugo whether you approve or not.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      siiiiiiiiiiiigh. *head-desk*

  • http://www.god-loves-women.webs.com God Loves Women

    Hi,

    Thanks for this post and for raising this situation and putting yourself out there.

    My main issue with the framing of Hugo Schwyzer’s past is that it always seems to be prefaced with “when I was drunk and on drugs” and as someone working in this field, he should know that this amounts to a justification of his behaviour, and an avoiding of full responsiblity. I would say that he needs to stop using such language, and that also, there must be full permission from those he has abused for him to speak out on his story.

    Jesus called people out, He didn’t offer “grace” to the pharisees when they were going to stone a woman, He wrote their names in the sand and shamed them. He called people out and taught that we should do the same (Matthew 18:15-20). Jesus said that if a “brother” doesn’t listen to us, we must challenge further. I feel that Hugo isn’t listening to the concerns of those of us who have experienced abuse, I feel Relevant also isn’t listening to us and I feel that until they start listening, we must keep telling them and getting more people to speak out.

    Be encouraged, keep it up! We must not be silenced! Many blessings to you x

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Thank you so much for your comment and for the encouragement!

  • Lucient

    Again, I show up late and this is my last comment before I work, possibly, for twelve hours. First, Sarah, I understand the concern. I do. How to approach this… how to approach this… um… I guess I’d have to start with, something that has been a big question for anyone who can or wants to answer it, where did “levels” of wrong come from and who determines them? I mean, some words are cuss words or “offensive” while others are not. Who determined that? Why do I ask these things? Because, it’s okay for me to operate a camera and I’ve fantasized about do something horrible things to people, why is that different from the one who actually did it? Is the former the “fuel to the fire” for the latter? I’ll admit not every movie, history book, or news article; not every essay, blogger, or magazine section do I look up or research their views or past. If you are perceptive, usually you can pick up on this things. However, if I learn of said views or past of someone, I will act accordingly. I do not agree with the magazines actions towards you guys, whether they had legal backings or not, and as two concerned individuals I don’t see any harm in simply listening to you guys.

    Second, I haven’t been this “horrible” person (I’ll use the levels just to get my point across) yet the grace thing you mentioned, I’m assuming to be what I’ve come to know as “getting what you don’t deserve.” If he is truly given grace then he doesn’t deserves to write about what he is writing about but because he has grace he does. How would you define that for the abused? Do they deserve to feel uncomfortable or do they deserve to take his essays and weigh them without bias (he was an abuser or he abused someone). It is a good point. A good concern to bring up.

  • Anonymous

    “Speaking of Planned Parenthood, what is track number 8 on this band’s album trying to say? That Planned Parenthood is racist? Because we can talk about Planned Parenthood’s highly problematic and racist past. In fact, I think we need to. But we can’t ignore the good it is doing in the present in that discussion. Or is it saying that Planned Parenthood is destroying Anglos?”

    Is this a different case because Hugo isn’t doing “good”?

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Because Hugo continues to be really, really fucking creepy, and because no one (including him) wants to talk about it?

  • Liz

    Interesting to read this article 1 year and a half later, knowing what we know now.


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