No response from Karen Abel

February 8

Ms. Abel:

In your recent email of January 20, your misrepresentations of the situation together with your assertions of power over reason compel me to respond with some clarifications.

In your email, you state that my “concerns were addressed.” This is not true. None of the “numerous” communications I have received from artEAST have ever addressed my concerns. Why do you mention the quantity? It has no significance.

It’s interesting that you are keeping a record of the sightings of me at the gallery and Blakely Hall and that I have been treated wonderfully—from your point of view. I am curious about the purpose of mentioning these public incidents when no visible bullying occurred. Obviously, your opinions aren’t going to change my experiences. Was it someone else you wanted to give the impression that no misconduct has taken place?

In any case, it is entirely irrelevant how I was treated on the few public occasions that you chose to mention. The abusive behaviors—inherently contrary to the “utmost respect and courtesy” you allude to in your email—have always been surreptitious and kept under the public radar.

Over the years I have attended and contributed to numerous artEAST events, I have never harassed anyone. You cannot criminalize me by expanding your definition of “harassment” to include my continued, rightful presence. Ironically, it is your vilification tactics that correspond to the dictionary definition of “harassment.”

This continued use of manipulative rhetoric to euphemize social aggression is indefensible, and the deceptive intent should be apparent to every normal, rational human being. Regardless of how you choose to describe it, you cannot legitimize using your position to pursue a personal vendetta. It is reprehensible.

Your personal remarks in June 2013 were not delivered with “the utmost respect and courtesy,” and neither is the veritable witch hunt that has continued to this day following my mention of the incident to Jamie McKay. As an individual, you are entitled to your opinions about a member’s artistic abilities, but as artEAST staff, you are not entitled to make derogatory and disrespectful remarks.

In declaring that “the issue was closed” and that further communication “will not be addressed,” you reassert in your recent email the stonewalling policy I was previously informed of; that my questions and concerns will be ignored and that ambiguities in communications I received will not be clarified. No one would regard this refusal to acknowledge, listen, or respond as “the utmost respect and courtesy.” The established definition describes stonewalling as a form of abuse; a power trip and expression of contempt used to control, penalize, humiliate, and to evade accountability. It violates artEAST’s stated commitment that every person “… is treated with respect and dignity, and is safe and protected from abuse.” 

This pattern of provocations and uninformed dictatorial control, backed up by threats and stonewalling, shows a callous disregard for the targeted individual and is consistent with an intent to escalate conflict, not resolve it. These acts violate the rights of the individual and offend the most basic principles of democratic and civil conduct. They also contrast sharply against the organization’s purpose, as well as the values and commitments that each director is obligated to.

It is quite some time ago that I clarified in 11 points why a membership ban is unacceptable. With only one of the points ever responded to, and unsatisfactorily, sufficient reason to change my position has still not been presented. The imaginative reasons for rejecting my membership renewal, listed in the letter you attached to your email, differ from those previously revealed to me. How do you account for that?

Stating that “the issue was closed” is understood as an expression of your preference, not as a realistic account of the situation. Your January 20 email constitutes indisputable evidence that bullying is still occurring and that the bullying issue remains unresolved and ongoing.

All bullying; including smear campaigning, attempts to ostracize, intimidate, and antagonize; stonewalling, threats, and other hostile behaviors directed at me or any other member, is an act of social aggression that is unethical, unacceptable, and in direct conflict to artEAST’s Core Values Policy.

As Executive Director, you are obligated to serve the best interests of the membership, yet you jeopardize the organization’s continued operations by setting yourself above its rules and contravening government requirements for tax exemption, which artEAST heavily depends upon.

Your use of the phrase “the utmost respect and courtesy” rings hollow in the context of persecuting and ostracizing an artEAST member; behavior that is unethical, unacceptable, and subject to disciplinary action under artEAST’s Core Values Policy. Any intent to penalize or harm an individual is unethical and unacceptable. Abuse with impunity can never be acceptable.



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