So Many Of Us Issues An Update Regarding Warren Ellis
In June 2020, the website SoManyOfUs.com collected and collated dozens of accusations of grooming young women by the comic book writer Warren Ellis over the past two decades. Further coverage saw them record, even more, over a hundred. In the wake of this news, and despite the site stating they did not want Warren to be "cancelled" but to learn, a number of projects (but not all) dropped Ellis as a contributor, or he pulled out. Most recently, after the return of the comic book Fell was announced by co-creator Ben Templesmith, Image Comics stated that they would not publish Warren Ellis' work again until he had made accepted amends. These events also partially led to the creation of the Comic Book Workers United union at Image Comics. Warren also issued a statement last June accepting the website's offer to work on a method of transformative justice. Yesterday, the website So Many Of Us issued an update as to the progress this was taking.
- Today, SMOU's active membership is significantly smaller than the original group of 60+ people who drove the publication of somanyofus.com. We celebrate those who have found peace in disengagement and consider it a win that many have moved forward in their healing. The group working on transformative justice with Warren Ellis will be referred to as SMOU-TJ. All members, past and present, are invited to engage in planning, support, and decision-making at their preferred level of participation.
- We continue making progress in a guided transformative justice process: First, we found an extraordinary facilitator who has helped us to understand our options and clarify our goals. Second, we undertook internal processes to define and practice accountability, flexibility, and democracy within our group. Third, in a facilitator-led survey, SMOU-TJ identified fidelity ("the decision is in line with our values") and unity ("the process of decision-making does not tear us apart, but brings us together") as our two priority factors for decision-making. Our forward motion may be slow, but it is intentional.
- SMOU-TJ entered into a mediated conversation with Warren Ellis in August 2021. It has taken a great deal of effort and foundational work in order for us to begin communicating effectively with Ellis. We acknowledge this slow, challenging process and also acknowledge that it is simply too early to report where it is heading or where it may end up. We would like to emphasize that Warren Ellis has the option of working on healing and recovery independently, and this work is necessary whether or not he continues to work with us.
- Here is the clarity we can offer: our goal is to transform harm, not "cancel" Warren Ellis (or anyone else). We cannot and will not sign off on his moral progress. We decline to be the authority on who is allowed to work in what context. We reaffirm our support for the right of creators to be paid for their work, as well as the right of publishers, creatives, and others to determine who they work with.
As well as underlining that their aim is not to cancel Warren Ellis, they have also asked that people not harass Warren Ellis, his friends, and collaborators, or those who contributed to So Many Of Us.
- Please keep your engagement respectful. Both parties have experienced undue harassment. Please do not harass Warren Ellis. Please do not harass his friends and collaborators. Please do not harass SMOU. We understand the difficult feelings like frustration or anger that can surround this topic, but trolling does not serve to reduce harm, nor does it move the conversation forward.
- Structures for accountability within industry are necessary and must come from within the industry itself. Industry leaders ought to develop, apply, and maintain systems to protect and empower vulnerable groups. Specific systems we'd like to see dismantled include: the "protected" status of celebrities, the limited public understanding of both abuse and consent, the way irony can be used as a shield, and the implementation of enforced and toxic hierarchies. Read more about these systems here.
- Please keep engaging with the topic of accountability in general. We are heartened every time we see someone insist that an organization address issues surrounding abuse by the people they hire. Keep supporting transparency. Similarly, we are glad to see people discussing how to recognise patterns of abusive behavior, including adult grooming, abuse of power, and consent violation. Knowing about these types of abuse is the first step to being able to recognise it and address it.
- We ask and encourage those close to Warren Ellis, as well as those willing to support him in his efforts towards accountability, to reach out directly to our facilitator at email@example.com.
It's an e-mail I am going to be writing to myself.