Admin Announcement: Cat

Malashaan

Forum Administrator
Cabinet
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
The Administrative Team has determined that Cat will not be allowed to rejoin our community. This was a difficult decision involving complex issues. We believe it is in the community’s best interests for us to take this opportunity to provide information about what led to this point and an explanation of our decision.

In July 2018, we banned Askar (also known as Locust of Charon). We were concerned about several aspects of his behavior, but the primary factor influencing our decision were threats he issued to file real-life lawsuits against members of the community and the Administration Team over an article that raised legitimate concerns about his actions. We must not understate how impactful this was for those he threatened. While we were confident any lawsuit he filed would ultimately be unsuccessful, the prospect of having to litigate the matter in real-life court and pay attorney’s fees was exceedingly stressful.

Throughout the period leading up to and following the ban, Cat was an avid and active supporter of Askar's efforts. She siphoned him information (including logs from administrators) that he later used as “evidence” in this threat to press suit, leveraged his threat of real-life litigation to coerce other members to provide her information, and ultimately left Europeia in protest of Askar's eventual ban. She was an active participant in his campaign of litigation threats and his later attempts to question both our motives and process, as well as the community at large. At the time, we did not ban Cat. We should have made a decision regarding what we would do if she returned then, but we did not. We viewed her as a victim of Askar’s manipulation, she had left with a very negative opinion of the region and seemed unlikely to return, many of the key events played out over time even after her departure and, frankly, we were emotionally and mentally drained from handling the Askar situation.

That leads us to today, where Cat has asked to return to the region. We spoke with her today about the events surrounding Askar’s ban and what has happened since, and we want to emphasize that we still believe Cat was a victim of Askar’s manipulation. She has told us and others that she has broken contact with him and recognizes at least some of his problematic behaviors. On balance, we believe this is the case. However, considering the impact of her actions during of July 2018, we have concluded that it is not in the best interests of the community for her to return. There is a consistent theme of anxiety and lack of trust among members of our community with regard to Cat. While we recognize that Cat’s actions were likely driven by Askar’s manipulation, we do not think it is reasonable to further expose innocent victims in the community to the negative impacts that her return engenders.

Therefore, we have decided that Cat is banned from Europeia. We are honestly happy to hear that she has moved on from Askar and seems to be doing well. We wish her well for the future, but will not risk the wellbeing of the community by allowing her return.

Malashaan, Deputy Chief Administrator
HEM, Chief Administrator
Lethen, Senior Administrator for Membership
Darcness, Senior Administrator for Development
Sopo, Associate Administrator for Discord
Kuramia, Associate Administrator for Advocacy
 

Kaboom

The Fossil
Citizen
Cat was a good friend of mine before all of this went down, and we are still on good terms, and this is disappointing, but understandable. Thanks for being clear about it, admins.
 

shufordbrian

Keeper of the Horses (they’re in the back)
I really liked Cat when she was active here. But she did have more than a checkered history as I can admit. Thanks for doing the things, admins.
 

Calvin Coolidge

Spellcaster
President
Deputy Minister
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
Discord Moderator
Thank you for your continued role in the upkeep of our community, admin team.
 

JayDee

Never Honorable, sometimes Right
Deputy Minister
Citizen
Question.

The message seems to imply that Cat may be allowed back sometime in the far future, but the banishment seems to say otherwise? Could we get clarification? Is there any chance Cat will be allowed back?

I'll admit, I think banning is a bit extreme, but I am grateful to the admins for their diligence in keeping this community safe.
 

Kaboom

The Fossil
Citizen
Question.

The message seems to imply that Cat may be allowed back sometime in the far future, but the banishment seems to say otherwise? Could we get clarification? Is there any chance Cat will be allowed back?

I'll admit, I think banning is a bit extreme, but I am grateful to the admins for their diligence in keeping this community safe.
I was actually talking to Cat last night, and because of this unclear wording in the announcement, she has no idea if the ban is permanent either, so a clarification could help.
 

Aynia

Diplomat
To be perfectly honest, I can't say that I agree with your decision, and I worry that it really comes off as victim blaming. To be fair though, I feel like it's probably in *Cat's* best interest not to come back, rather than your best interest not to have her, but I guess it works out the same in the end, though without really giving Cat any choice. I haven't seen the ups and downs here with her but I do consider her a friend, and I don't think she deserves a perma ban for basically sticking up for someone who brainwashed her and she felt so close to. I've been in that situation, and it really isn't the fault of the person going along with such a strong and hecked up personality.
 

Drecq

Vice Chancellor
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
Discord Moderator
No one is saying its her fault. We are saying that she consistently supported someone who didnt just threaten the region in RP terms but threatened the RL of many of our region. Lawsuits, even if won, can and do destroy lives. Legal fees can bankrupt people and bankruptcy can follow people for decades. For a lot of people the Askar episode wasnt just an "NS thing", it was a thing that threatened to potentially destroy lives and livelihoods. It is more than understandable to not want a person who supported the person who threatened that harm in Europeia. Even if they arent at fault.
 
Last edited:

HEM

,,,,,,,,
Forum Administrator
Honoured Citizen
Question.

The message seems to imply that Cat may be allowed back sometime in the far future, but the banishment seems to say otherwise? Could we get clarification? Is there any chance Cat will be allowed back?

I'll admit, I think banning is a bit extreme, but I am grateful to the admins for their diligence in keeping this community safe.
By default, all our admins are "indefinite" which is to say, there isn't a timer but we can self-initiate reviews if circumstances change.





I want to briefly discuss this issue as HEM the person, not the admin. Please don't ascribe anything I say below those two above HR lines to the admin team, just to me.

I would love to describe the whole situation from a personal perspective in great detail to everyone. Frankly, I understand how anyone with a few degrees of separation from the main events of July 2018 could want to err on the side of redemption here. I get it. The fact is, I can't even speak up and fully testify to this community because I am still afraid. But here's what I can say.

I've never discussed this situation publicly at all. In part, because of the potential pending lawsuit, and in part, because I felt like it was my job to be strong for the region and not stray from a stoic administrative posture. It took a long time to realize that I was a victim.

I was afraid. I was potentially going to be the subject of a lawsuit that would at the very least, cost me thousands of dollars to dispel. At worst, it would consume all my time and ruin my life. I had to watch persistent public discussion speculating about whether Askar could sue. EuroChat convos about how much Askar could theoretically sue for, what his legal case would be. People were talking about my home state specifically, looking up state-specifically laws and seeing how it could play out. It was scary. I couldn't sleep at night, I talked to lawyers, I resolved to quit Nationstates for good. Other members of the community (admins and non-admins) were threatened with the same.

Every step of the way, Cat was helping Askar. She interrogated community members for information for his claim to sue, she leaked him information (including logs with a Europeian admin) which he then used to strengthen his threats of litigation. She doubled down on her support while he was threatening to destroy lives.

I truly do believe Cat was a victim, but the reality I've had to accept in my heart is that I was one too. So were countless members of this community. The dark truth is, had the suit gone to court, countless of us based in the US would likely have been forced to give depositions, be compelled to fly across the country to testify, etc. Years later now, I would never be so easily spooked by frivolous lawsuit threats, but that's after having gone through this once, and I hope nobody ever has to learn that same lesson that same way.

I think Cat has a good heart and has grown a lot. I understand why the people who know her best would want to give her another shot. But having never truly faced what some of us faced in that situation, I don't think it's possible to understand the stress and pain that was involved. I want Cat to have an amazing life — and a fun, enjoyable time in fun, warm, safe internet communities. I also want to never speak or interact with her ever again. I truly hope both those things are possible.
 

Malashaan

Forum Administrator
Cabinet
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
There are two separate issues to address here, Cat's status and the reason she has that status.

With regard to the status, I want to make clear that the admin team does not have degrees of ban. For context, I think it's important to clarify that we do not issue bans as punishments, we issue bans where we feel an individual's presence in the community represents an unreasonable risk of harm to others. In view of that, we do not issue permabans and "other" bans. We made a policy decision a long time ago that there are only two statuses people have at the admin level: banned or not banned. We have strayed from that policy a couple of times and always ended up regretting it. What we have found it that setting an essentially arbitrary time limit creates an expectation that a person will be allowed back at that point, but there is no way to accurately predict when or if the risk presented by any individual will have changed. Thus, a ban represents a current status of the subject, but it is never immutable. We are always open to reconsidering bans if we have reason to believe the risk of threat has diminished or additional evidence becomes available that changes our analysis.

I explained this (briefly) to Cat last night before the announcement was made. She specifically asked me whether whatever decision we made would be permanent and I told her that none of our decisions are permanent and are always subject to reconsideration. If that wasn't clear to her, then I will certainly apologize to her for that. But I suspect the confusion arose not from our announcement but from the fact I told her before the announcement it wasn't permanent (because we don't do that) and a non-admin reported to her that she had been "permabanned."

As to this particular decision, I want to emphasize again what was in the statement that we believe Cat has made great progress. The decision is not about punishing her, it is about protecting others (and, to some degree as noted by Aynia, protecting her, as her return could create some very tense situations that my not be good for her either). The situation is complicated because Cat is undoubtedly a victim of Askar, but she also has victims. She did not just "stick up for" Askar, she actively participated in his campaign of threatening members of the community with real life lawsuits. If she had just defended him and said we were wrong, we would not be in this position today, but her own actions made people feel unsafe in the community and anxious about she and Askar might do.

I have no doubt that she was manipulated into these actions by Askar, and I hold no ill feeling towards her for that reason. However, as I noted at the start, bans are not about punishment, they are about protection. We are faced with the situation where the return of one victim (Cat) would have a negative impact on the wellbeing of other victims (the people she and Askar threatened). In speaking to some of these other victims last night, it was clear that there were already negative mental health effects caused by the mere prospect of her return. There was understandable anxiety and, I can say personally, just being forced to revisit the events of July 2018 was emotionally taxing. In this situation, it simply isn't fair to subject numerous wholly innocent victims to the negative effects of being exposed to Cat who, while also a victim, is not blameless.

I also want to take a moment to distinguish this from victim blaming. Victim blaming is a serious issue where the victim of abuse is blamed for the abuse they suffered. That is not the case here. I do not believe Cat was in any way responsible for the abuse she suffered. My concern is rather with the abuse she helped inflict on others. I certainly think her culpability is significantly mitigated by the situation, and personally I am happy to interact with her, but it is not my place to tell other victims that they have to be comfortable with her because I've determined that it wasn't her fault. The fact is, several victims are not ready and/or able to take that step yet, and I'm not willing to force them to make it. It would be closer to victim blaming to tell those people they should get over what happened than it is to recognize that Cat can be both a victim but also have some responsibility for the abuse inflicted on other victims. From my conversation with her, I think she understands that. She knows she hurt a lot of people and understands that some of them re not willing to forgive and forget. Maybe they will be one day, maybe they won't, we just can't know that right now.
 

Deepest House

Vice Chancellor
Citizen
I definitely understand the decision of the Admin Team, which once again has put the interests of the community first.

I do have a question, that I hope can be answered. Were there ever any real manifestations of his threat of a lawsuit? From where I sat, I never got the sense that he was in an active and serious pursuit of a real lawsuit – beyond posturing and making loud noises on the internet. It’s hard to tell from the sideline, but his case seemed so frivolous from my layman’s point of view, and I thought that it’d be really hard to get an attorney to sign up for the case (though I suppose you can always find an attorney who will take almost any case if you pay them). And, that even if he did find an attorney, he did not strike me as the kind of individual with the sophistication and resources necessary to see a lawsuit through.

That’s not to discount the very real impact the threat had on our community – and I’m unsure how I would’ve reacted had those shoes been on my feet – but it just always seemed like loud noises more than anything to me. Can you share any insights into this?
 

Drecq

Vice Chancellor
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
Discord Moderator
If I remember correctly there had been noises about him going to speak to a lawyer. And if I remember correctly at the time people more familiar with him than I claimed that he had personal wealth of some sort. Of course, this is the internet. For all I know he never even googled "libel lawyer" and if he had found a lawyer would have had no money to pay them with. On the other hand, the first those targeted would have known of it if the lawsuit had materialized would have been the summons. Personal lawsuits are almost never definitely coming until they have arrived. That doesnt make the approach any less anxiety inducing.
 

Kari

My name is Kari, and I am a Legion of One.
Citizen
Allegedly he make a rather long post somewhere after being banned here (posted somewhere outside of Euro) about going to speak with a lawyer, getting a lawyer to assess his "case," declaring his ban to be an "infringement upon his freedom of speech" (or something to the same effect), yadda yadda yadda.

Though as Drecq says, this is the internet, he might not have done any of it, or if he did he may not have followed up on any of it, and may have only being posturing for an audience.
 

Malashaan

Forum Administrator
Cabinet
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
Like Drecq said, it's the internet so certainty is basically impossible, but I am fairly confident that he did approach a lawyer about it. It's not clear what happened after that. I suspect that the lawyer probably advised him he had no case, but I've also heard he was talked out of it by others. I believe he was serious about it because I can verify he was talking about it in private long after we banned him. I.e., he was describing it as something he was doing in contexts where there was no one present to threaten and no apparent reason to lie about his intent.
 

Prim

WA Delegate
Associate Justice
Citizen
You can always get a lawyer to send some threatening letters, but I doubt any lawyers would actually submit paperwork for an official lawsuit without some serious money up front from the litigant first, to underwrite the whole thing. There was a hurdle for him to clear if he really wanted to pursue things. I mean, I thought he was bluffing as well, but I wasn't one of the threatened parties, and who knows, he was a bit unstable, he might have done something crazy out of spite.

Given the campaign to gather intel that Cat undertook shortly after, perhaps that lent credence to the idea that he might be that crazy.
 
Top