Subject: artEAST Bullying
Date: March 18, 2015 11:38:28 PDT
To: Farshad Alamdari <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Starting several months ago, I have made repeated efforts to connect with you to inform you about serious problems within artEAST. My latest email alerting you to the abuse has been ignored along with my inquiries; including the question of what you intend to do about it. Even if your position within artEAST is non-executive, you hold the title of President and you have an obligation to act upon reports of misconduct.
artEAST is a public institution. One of the conditions for tax exemption is that membership is open to the public. The public grants that the organization has been awarded also come with the expectation that its practices are non-discriminatory and above board. This means that any official who abuses their position or contravenes rules and regulations is a threat to artEAST’s continued operations.
I don’t know the reason for your silence, but if it means that you decided to ignore the problems and stonewall me, then you are complicit in the bullying. You may also be seen as enabling activities that are detrimental to artEAST. If you do not intend to take any responsibility for resolving problems, nor refer me to someone who will, then you leave me with no other viable option than to take the matter to others; including the membership, the community, and the authorities.
Over the past two years, individuals within artEAST leadership have slandered and abused me using unscrupulous false allegations and deceit, refused to hear my side of the story, and violated my rights as a member. With my attempts at rational communication consistently ignored or dismissed, I shall now redirect my efforts to the public arena and engage anti-bullying organizations, government agencies, and others as I continue to protest leadership misconduct and the discrimination and mistreatment I have been subjected to. Legal action is also being considered.
No one can make you communicate, but you need to understand that the implications of inaction are most serious from now on. I have not yet succumbed to threats or blackmail, nor will I. It is only through respectful dialog that a better outcome for the organization can be achieved.
This will be the last time I implore you to consider your responsibilities, moral imperatives, and the best interests of artEAST. It is my hope that you will make the heroic choice to take a stand in favor of ethical behavior and democratic principles—and against bullying.
PS: With the risk of causing cognitive dissonance, this article; The Role of the Enablers, spells out some disconcerting and relevant truths.
From the artEAST.org website:
In all non-profit organizations, Boards of Directors play an important role in strategic planning, goal setting and fiscal decisions. For artEAST, a young, fast growing organization, our Board of Directors is vital to the shaping of our future. We are fortunate to have board members who provide not only hours and expertise, but “heart” and a passionate dedication to our mission and dreams.
February 11, 2015
I haven’t seen a response to my latest emails alerting you to the bullying problem, and my questions remain unanswered. The article attached below is very relevant to the situation. The accuracy with which the descriptions of adult bullying in the article match my own experiences is unnerving.
The abuse has been going on for almost two years and I have had more than enough. Without further delay, I need to know what you intend to do about it. Hopefully, we can work together towards a resolution.
Why is it so easy for an abuser to get away with it and so difficult for an abuse victim to be heard?
The typical serial bully is a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde personality type (male or female) who has put considerable effort into establishing and maintaining a respectable and credible public persona. Bystanders may believe they know him well, that he is a genuinely righteous person, and that he couldn’t possibly be capable of the malicious behavior he is accused of. Unable (and probably unwilling) to imagine that they have been deceived, their logical conclusion is that the accuser is the antagonist, acting out inexplicable malevolence. With derogatory implications about his target’s mental state, lack of character, or foul motives, the abuser fuels this role reversal. Feigning moral indignation and playing the part of the victim, he encourages supporters to see the real victim, who is attempting to be heard, as the abusive one.
Dr. Vaknin explains: “Even the victim’s relatives, friends, and colleagues are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them to his favor. Others rarely have a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters. In contrast, the victims are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.”
“Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser and his harried casualties, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey’s acts of self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, lability, or a mental health problem.”
Dr. Sam Vaknin, Narcissism by Proxy
Three cognitive strategies have been identified for when people deny, discount, or dismiss occurrences of abuse and for turning away from effective steps to stop it and hold abusers accountable:
|Reflexively dismissing all evidence as questionable, incomplete, misleading, false, or in some other way inadequate.|
|Using euphemism, abstraction, and other linguistic transformations to hide the abuse.|
|Turning away: ‘I’m not involved,’ ‘There is nothing I can do about it,’ ‘I have no authority, jurisdiction, power, or influence,’ ‘This is no concern of mine,’ etc.|
Despite the fact that Mike Larson, a tax lawyer and artEAST board director, had never met me or communicated with me; he produced a document concerning me, presented it at the August 2013 board meeting, and apparently, had it approved by a group of people, including several who have never met me. The letter that I subsequently received, based on the approved document, gives the appearance of answering questions and addressing concerns—but they are not my questions or concerns. The letter does not represent me at all. Instead, it consists of offensive disinformation and innuendos. I asked him about his information sources but he would not tell me.
Recognizing the blatant bias, distortions, and disregard for my experiences in the matter, perturbed about being misrepresented, and curious about established ethical expectations of his profession, I did a little research and found a statement on wa.gov that validates my own view of how a lawyer should conduct himself:
The continued existence of a free and democratic society depends upon recognition of the concept that justice is based upon the rule of law grounded in respect for the dignity of the individual and the
capacity through reason for enlightened self-government. Law so grounded makes justice possible, for only through such law does the dignity of the individual attain respect and protection. Without it, individual rights become subject to unrestrained power, respect for law is destroyed, and rational self-government is impossible.
Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the
preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship with and function in our legal system. A consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.
On Feb 5, 2015, at 1:11 PM, [Victim] wrote:
Please let me know who holds the position of record keeper for artEAST. Thank you.
The President won’t say.
On Feb 5, 2015, at 1:49 , Farshad Alamdari wrote:
As I have mentioned before I am the non-executive President. As such I am not involved in day-to-day business of the artEAST. The best person for your needs and questions is really Karen.
| Dr. Farshad Alamdari | www.artPATH.me |
Sent from my iPhone
Isn’t he paying attention? No reply.
Subject: Re: artEAST record keeper
Date: February 6, 2015 5:25:14 PST
To: Farshad Alamdari <email@example.com>
Referring me to Karen Abel suggests that you did not read my earlier email in which I explained that there is a problem with her. I also wonder if you read her email of January 20 that she cc:ed to you in which she attempts to impress on you that I have been treated with “the utmost respect and courtesy,” and at the same time, threatens me and attempts to intimidate and discriminate against me.
Does Karen Abel have unlimited managerial powers? Is she not bound by artEAST’s Core Values Policy? To whom shall I report her misconduct, if not to you?
That email alone, with Karen’s manipulative approach directed at you and her blatant hostility towards me, should be enough to indicate that there are serious problems. Wouldn’t you consider this issue to be above and beyond the scope of day-to-day business?
I understand you’re busy. Before troubling you about the record keeper’s contact information, I sent emails to several artEAST officials. They were unresponsive and I was not able to get a straight answer to a simple question. It is important for you to know that, to maintain its tax exempt status, the organization is required to make its records available upon request. Your cooperation in this matter is much appreciated.
Stonewalling is a tactic commonly used by bullies to control the situation and to isolate, humiliate, and frustrate a target who attempts to resolve a conflict through reasonable discussion or negotiation. Accusing the target of mental deficiency, harassment, or even bullying, are other methods of asserting dominance, intimidating the target, and discouraging objections to mistreatment and exposure.
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.
This show recurred annually in November/December at the gallery. With a preference for the small format in much of my artistic creations, I had contributed regularly to this event for several years.
For the 2013 Small Works Show, which was to be the last, I had gone through the familiar process of committing my participation, signing up for a volunteer position, completing required paperwork, and bringing my artwork to the gallery on the prescribed date.
However, this time, my name had been removed from the list of participating artists. The intake volunteer proceeded to accept my submissions anyways, but just as the process was completed, Karen Abel approached and commanded the volunteer to reject my work.
I asked Karen Abel for a reason. She would not tell me, and instead said: “We have gone over this before.” That is not true. I had not even communicated with her for several months prior. She also said that I had received a letter from “the lawyer.”
The letter I had received from tax lawyer Mike Larson stated that the Small Works Show was for members only, which I knew, and that my membership had expired in June, which I had been unaware of. I informed Karen Abel that I intended to bring my membership dues up to date but this had no effect on her intent to bar me from participating in the show.
After this rude rejection, I did pay my remaining membership dues for the year. The amount was later sent back to me, noted as “your voided gallery purchase.” Still no explanation.
The adult bully is a master of
deceit and insidious innuendo.
“Smear campaigners carefully and strategically use lies, exaggerations, suspicions, and false accusations to destroy your credibility. They hide behind a cloak of upstanding heroism and feigned innocence in an attempt to make as many people as possible think their efforts are based not on their vindictiveness, but on upstanding concern.”
“You still have the same opportunity…”
Blatant lie. This deceptive statement conceals the board’s decision to deny my membership renewal, which I didn’t find out about until several months later.
“Karen Abel made multiple attempts…”
This statement implies that Karen Abel made heroic efforts to correct the situation, and therefor, cannot be at fault for failing. Both sides are misrepresented through this tactic. The target is falsely implicated as demanding and unreasonable while Karen Abel is falsely attributed with sincerity and goodwill.
“It is our finding that she followed protocol…”
Karen Abel did not follow protocol. The “finding” is based solely on her testimony about her own behavior, as the victim was never heard. Conclusions were reached without properly investigating the matter and the word “finding” is used deceptively to imply otherwise. artEAST officials have acted in blatant disregard of the most basic principles of civility and justice.
“…monetary contributions cannot…to do so would not be ethical…”
Another malicious misrepresentation; a straw man, formulated as if a response to an inappropriate request for preferential treatment, when in reality, nothing of the sort had occurred. Insidious innuendo is used to implicate the target as morally depraved while crediting the bullies with moral integrity. How ironic—not to mention hypocritical—for the author(s) to speak of ethics while engaging in such moral treachery!
“We do take our members concerns to heart.”
This contradicting declaration appears in the context of secretly deciding to ostracize a concerned member. It is nothing but another disingenuous impression management tactic. How is it possible to take anyone’s “concerns to heart” without hearing what they have to say?
What request? I made no request. I wasn’t even heard. The phrasing is yet another unscrupulous incrimination tactic contributing to Mike Larson’s framing strategy.
“…a perceived lack of respect and consideration…”
A base form of invalidation. Derogatory comments are disrespectful and inappropriate—independently of how they are perceived.
This blog was started and is sponsored by an individual artist, once a generous supporter, contributor, and volunteer, who has suffered extensive social aggression from artEAST leadership. Information and commentary pertaining to adult bullying in general and the artEAST case in particular has been collected and displayed on this site.
The bullied individual, believing that conflicts are best handled privately through respectful discussion, has made every effort to understand the problem and contribute to a solution. After being subjected to abuse, threats, a distortion campaign, and stonewalling since the Spring of 2013, recognition that artEAST leadership is fixated on a stance of power over reason, rejection of responsibility, and refusal to address problems with fairness and civility has lead to the difficult decision to bring the matter out into the public arena. It is my hope that by shedding light on events, members and the general public will pressure leadership to abide by dignified standards of behavior and the rules of the organization, be answerable to their actions, and that a system of accountability and other bullying prevention measures be implemented to discourage future abuse.
Bullying is never OK.
From When the Sociopath Stonewalls You by Steve Becker, LCSW
For more on stonewalling, see this page.
The stonewaller isn’t necessarily a sociopath, but the act of intentional stonewalling contains the cold, callous attitude of the sociopath. Absence of empathy is characteristic of stonewallers, and they may relish a sadistic pleasure in watching their target twist, squirm, and make humiliating efforts and bids to be heard. Stonewallers, whether sociopaths or not, are seriously disturbed communicators. Their indifference to the stonewalled party’s experience, as noted, can be chilling. Stonewalling often reflects character pathology, in which case they won’t change—they will always be stonewallers.