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When Is the Right Time to Forgive A Sexual Predator?

How about never? Is “never” good for you?

Louis C.K. has not atoned, but he’s back. He stayed quiet for nine months, hiding away, making no reparations, and he’s coming back now.

And I am so not cool with that.

Before I explain why, I don’t mean that no one should ever be forgiven for misdeeds. But with Louis, he didn’t try to make up for it. His apology was garbage, and, most importantly, he fucking betrayed us.

He did exactly what he railed against in his comedy. He exposed sexism and promoted equality in his sets, all the while doing the horrible things he said not to do.

In one bit he said to an adoring crowd, “How do women still go out with guys when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women. Globally and historically we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them.”

He said this, while being the worst thing that ever happened to several women. It is peak hypocrisy.

And he was punished with a brief timeout.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. The only thing you can do to get booted from the NFL is protest racism. Assault, rape, or kill? As long as you can move that ball across the line, you’re still good.

C.K. should not be welcomed back. Ever. Because the betrayal is too great. It’s the epitome wrong to let something like that slide. He ruined the careers of women comedians, and should suffer similar ruination. Go away, you complete and utter hypocrite. Don’t come back.

I saw a tweet recently that a woman’s career is more negatively affected by having a baby than a man’s career is by sexually assaulting a colleague. It is sad how true that is.

Sometimes, people can atone, make amends, be forgiven, and return. I think it is human nature to want to forgive people. Because if we cannot forgive others their trespasses, then what happens when we make mistakes? Don’t we also wish that we would be able to eventually overcome that, learn, grow, make amends, and be forgiven?

We have all made mistakes. I have. You have.

But then there are people who were so horrible it’s just like, “Yeah. Fuck this guy.”

And it’s usually a guy.

This is happening right now in the fitness industry, of which I have been a part for a long time. A former friend of mine is being exposed as a sexual predator. I wrote about my failure to do all I could to protect people from him here. His name is Alan Aragon, and he needs to go away and not return.

Because like Louis C.K., the betrayal is too great.

He has been a highly-respected expert in nutrition for many years. I have interviewed him, counting on him as my go to source for more articles than I can remember. The first piece I interviewed him for was published in the Los Angeles Times eight years ago. We’ve met and partied and shared jokes at an annual conference a number of times.

For years, Alan was well-loved by his peers, both male and female. He was thought of as a rock star of nutrition in our little corner of the fitness world. He was invited to speak at conferences around the globe, again and again, and people would always flock to him because of his knowledge and fame.

The diet and physique world—an industry rife with bullshit—is especially hard on women. There is so much bad information, so much shaming, that it negatively affects women’s bodies and their minds. Alan was seen as a beacon by many. He was trusted so much so that he was the only man allowed in an online community of 55,000 women seeking to improve their health and their bodies (he has since been removed). This community was a safe space for women to shares stories of their trials and triumphs.

The degree of his betrayal of that trust is beyond forgiving. (It’s important to note that the people who trusted him are not to blame. They didn’t know who he truly was. But now they are left to deal with the aftermath.)

According to numerous reports, he abused that popularity to harass and assault women, again and again. More and more people he has victimized are coming forward. One came forward to me yesterday and I helped her with sharing her story.

Alan has been a master manipulator in all of this. He manipulated me, and many others. He was able to make us think his transgressions were mere misunderstandings, so we wrongly ignored the story of a woman who was finally brave enough to come forward, allowing Alan to continue to run amok. We didn’t stop him. We allowed ourselves to be duped because we didn’t want to believe he could be like that. We failed.

We cannot fail a second time.

We cannot fail the good people of the fitness industry by letting him back.

Sure, he knows a lot about nutrition, but so do many other people. He’s replaceable, so I say we replace him. For good. Because he has continued to lie through this. He has issued non-apologies and endeavored to manipulate people still and rally them to his side rather than consider that he has hurt people and must pay the price. It’s not about punishment. Well, it’s partly about that, to serve as a deterrent to others, but it’s about showing that this kind of behavior is UNACCEPTABLE. That when you do this, your career is OVER. It’s a message to the people they victimized that we as a society don’t condone this, and will make pariahs of the perpetrators.

I will not attend, nor speak at, any conference where Alan Aragon is a speaker. Ever. Not even if it’s five years from now. Or ten. Ever.

I told a friend that Alan should delete all his social media and retrain for a new job that doesn’t involve being on a computer or working with women, and donate part of his salary to RAINN. If he does that, perhaps he can find peace and atonement in another part of the world, because he doesn’t belong in the fitness world any longer.

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James S. Fell, MBA, writes for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, AskMen, the Guardian, TIME Magazine and many other fine publications. His first bookwas published by Random House Canada in 2014. His next book, which is about life-changing moments, will be published in January 2019. 

 

 

 

 

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