Hey everyone – so a thing happened and it’s time we address it publicly. Last weekend, Chris Lansdell was de-certified as the result of a Judge Conduct Committee (JCC) case for sexual harassment. He is not to participate as a judge in Magic events. He can attempt to re-enter the community by testing for L1 *only if* the JCC believes sufficient time has elapsed and Chris has shown appropriate positive change.
Originally, to protect the victim(s) from potential backlash, gossip, or ‘outing’, the JCC and I made the decision not to make a public announcement, and I chose to notify a select group of people privately. The belief was that both the accused and the victim(s) needed private time – however, that changed this week when Chris posted on Facebook. Now there are many questions, rumours, and I think it’s best for the Canadian community for me to get some facts out there and plant a flag on what happened.
Those are the facts that can be shared. Here are some of my feelings, and some of what I hope we can try and learn from this:
1. Respect boundaries that are set before you. “No” does not mean “try harder.”
2. If there is a power dynamic at play (e.g. a level, role, or popularity differential) then flirting is very very likely to be inappropriate, especially while in uniform and on the floor of a tournament. What looks like “yes” may in fact be “I’m too scared to say no”.
3. If you are the victim of harassment and unwanted advances, the program takes those seriously. We want your concerns to be heard and appropriate action taken quickly and unflinchingly. If ever you feel that this important commitment is not being met in any way – I am always open to you, and always open to discussing ways we can work together to improve.
4. This is painful for everyone – and I understand you may have strong desires to reach out to Chris to provide “emotional support” during this “rough time.” Please understand that I believe the decision taken by the JCC was absolutely correct and necessary. We have (at least) one victim to keep in mind here, and I’d like to ask you to avoid any actions that might be meant as “emotional support” but could be misinterpreted as support for Chris’s behaviour. If you are unsure how to thread this particularly awkward needle then I suggest erring on the side of the victim and not lending any public support to Chris at this time.
5. I know that there are those of you who will be looking for details, but please consider that the act of unearthing those details is all but guaranteed to cause more pain and do more harm than the benefit of satisfying your curiosity.
This has been an emotional time for all. Personally I’ve been feeling at times hurt, betrayed, angry, sad, and everything in between – and I know I’m not the only one. It’s completely natural to feel those things right now. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to be upset. This kind of experience is extremely isolating and disorienting – reach out and be a comfort to each other. Support the victim(s) if you know them, and if you don’t then support each other. Check in with each other. Share your worries.
Be excellent to each other <3
Note: Thanks to Paul Baranay, Jason Wong, Riki Hayashi, and Darcy Alemany with their help crafting this. This statement has been reviewed and posted with approval by a victim.