Respect our disrespect—or else!
On Nov 19, 2013, Mike Larson, tax lawyer and artEAST board director, wrote:
[Victim’s interpretations in brackets.]
Your November 17 email has been forwarded to the full board of directors. We will not be further exploring the November 13 incident directly with you because other members witnessed the incident, your subsequent attempt to renewal your membership and your visit to the gallery on the afternoon of Thursday, November 14. Those individuals can provide independent feedback. [ We will not hear your side of the story because we care only about our own version, and because some people saw you at the gallery when you were there.]
The Board unanimously voted to not accept your membership renewal because your viewpoint on specific events continues to differ so significantly, and intractably, from our member’s feedback regarding the same events and thus we deem it absolutely necessary for all parties involved to completely end the relationship in order to close the issue and move forward. This member feedback extends beyond the November 13th incident and to protect those members, we will not be providing names or additional information. [You have been banned because we know—without asking you—that some of your opinions about some things are different from some other members’ opinions about those things.]
We are requesting that you respect our concerns and immediately end the relationship and all communication with artEAST. Not accepting our request to end the relationship and communicate with any staff or board member will be understood as a continuance of a harassing, intimidating pattern of behavior toward artEAST. [If you defy our gag order or protest mistreatment, we will retaliate with false allegations.]
This will be the last communication you will receive from artEAST. Please respect that. [We shall continue to violate your rights and treat you with disrespect, ostracize you, ignore your attempts to be heard, deny your requests for clarifications and explanations, and refuse to engage in rational dialog and conflict resolution. If you do not submit to our bullying, we will say that you are behaving disrespectfully.]
Michael A. Larson
Attorney at Law
One Union Square, Suite 1730
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No. This is not acceptable.
Subject: Re: artEAST
Date: November 20, 2013
To: Mike Larson <MLarson@pivotallawgroup.com>
A membership ban is unacceptable because:
1. I have paid my membership dues.
2. I have done nothing wrong.
3. I have not been given a reason.
4. No allegations of wrongdoing have been presented.
5. I have not had the opportunity to respond to allegations that are either secret or don’t exist.
6. I don’t believe that all of the directors support social aggression.
7. I don’t believe that the membership supports social aggression.
8. The board does not have the privilege to ban members without due process.
9. The board does not have the privilege to ban a member who hasn’t been proven guilty of grave misconduct.
10. The board does not have the privilege to discriminate against any member for personal reasons, such as bias, malevolence, or retaliation.
11. ArtEast is not a private club. No one has the authority to decide at their discretion who may or may not join.
My requests for clarification have been ignored repeatedly. Your innuendo about a “viewpoint on specific events continues to differ…” is too vague to be meaningful. What viewpoint? What events? Differs from what? I think I am entitled to know what you are referring to. I believe that the members of ArtEast, along with me and anyone who values freedom of expression and open, respectful discussion, will regard your statement about a “differing viewpoint” as an expression of intolerance—not a valid reason to ban an upstanding member. If you have a justification, then cut to the chase and spell it out. Your continued refusal to be specific and give me a reason makes it pretty clear that you don’t have one. “Thus we deem it absolutely necessary” is not a reason.
As a lawyer, you should know that judging and penalizing anyone without any charges and without a hearing contradicts basic rights, judicial practices, and moral values. If the “independent feedback” you mention contains allegations of wrongdoing, than I am entitled to know what they are. I should also be allowed to face any accuser and to defend myself. If not, then the so called “independent feedback” is nothing but malicious gossip and should be dismissed as such.
The use of threats and intimidation tactics is uncalled for, inappropriate, and ineffective—fitting for a mafia, perhaps, but a disgrace coming from a representative of a reputable artists’ organization—and your gag order is simply outrageous. You will not succeed with bullying me into silence, especially not in the face of injustice.
You have made it clear that you intend to continue ignoring my valid questions and that you have no intention of furnishing a reason for the extraordinary decision to ban a longstanding member and generous contributor, presumably unheard of in the history of the organization, leaving serious issues unresolved.
ArtEast members expect honorable, respectful conduct from their representatives and I am confident they will find this witch-hunt deplorable. My rights have been seriously violated. A board that takes such extreme measures against any individual member without due process is no longer representative of the membership. Anyone who has abused their position, acted out of malevolence and against basic moral principles and the interests of the members, is a liability to the organization and shall be held accountable. An option, probably worth considering for some board directors, is to resign now.