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Opera director John Copley fired from the Met


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4 minutes ago, kfw said:

The punishment should fit the crime, as the saying goes. 

 You’re welcome to believe me or not, but I think if he is a victim, quite possibly what he’s a victim of is the whole triggering/safe space mentality, in which not only sticks and stones but words also are thought to break bones, that makes people turn inward and become extra sensitive and fragile. We live in a culture which we're all about rights rights rights and every group asserting their rights against other group’s rights. Humanistic it's not. 

 Would it not have been better for the chorister himself for him to have spoken with Copely face to face? If the chorister was truly traumatized (which we don’t know), would not a face to face apology and expression of understanding by Copely have made him feel better than getting Copely fired? Why not? To quote a phrase, what’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding? 

This discussion has nothing to do with "safe space mentality".  It's about what  John Copley said to the chorus member.  What anyone thinks the chorus member should have said  is really not relevant.

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This incident takes place in the US, no? The US government requires due process before depriving a person of life, liberty, or property. Private employers and individuals have no such requirement with respect to constitutionality. Employers can and do fire people "at will".

Being fired for being a jack*** in the workplace is not surprising. It's hardly punishment...more like a learning experience. We can hope that Copley has learned (albeit the hard way) that sexual remarks to co-workers/underlings are not acceptable in today's workplace culture. Thank goodness.

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Just now, kylara7 said:

Being fired for being a jack*** in the workplace is not surprising. It's hardly punishment...more like a learning experience. We can hope that Copley has learned (albeit the hard way) that sexual remarks to co-workers/underlings is not acceptable in today's workplace culture. Thank goodness.

Seriously. It was like a one- or two-week gig, probably.

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44 minutes ago, aurora said:

It is hard for white men to lose a bit of the dominance they've always had over other groups. 

I think what I wrote is at the heart of the matter, and I’d be interested in hearing other people's responses.

 Marta, I think the safe space mentality quite clearly produces incidents like this, if not necessarily in this case by making the chorister feel bad in the first place, but in affirming his ethical “right” to handle the situation as he did. 

Good point about how the law works. Of course you're right.

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41 minutes ago, aurora said:

It is hard for white men to lose a bit of the dominance they've always had over other groups. 

I respectfully think this is too broad a statement for this situation. It's interesting for me to see the clear division in the comments. I don't think anyone will be converted to the other's point of view.

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18 minutes ago, vipa said:

I respectfully think this is too broad a statement for this situation. It's interesting for me to see the clear division in the comments. I don't think anyone will be converted to the other's point of view.

I have no animosity to men (white or otherwise)! That comment was purely a response to kfw's continued disregard for victims, and extreme concern for a celebrated man who has other jobs (who in his view is the only actual victim here) which really could only come from a place of extreme privilege. I apologize if this veers into discussing the discussion but I thought it did deserve a response.

 

 

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1 hour ago, kfw said:

Would it not have been better for the chorister himself for him to have spoken with Copely face to face? If the chorister was truly traumatized (which we don’t know), would not a face to face apology and expression of understanding by Copely have made him feel better than getting Copely fired? Why not? To quote a phrase, what’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding? 

In my opinion it is no one’s right but his own to say or determine what’s best for him.

(Even if he cannot say it in English.)

And in my opinion it is often a sign of privilege to think that one’s own views of what is best for others are superior to theirs. That is just my opinion.

Edited by nanushka
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nanushka, the chorister’s male, and given the compositon of the Met’s chorus, he’s probably white. So I’m scratching my head at your theory.

 Also, I didn’t dispute Copely’ s right to decide for himself, I posed alternative options and asked why they weren’t better. We’ve been putting ourselves in the chorister and the director’s shoes all along and offering opinions on their choices – it won’t do now to say “we can’t know what’s best.” My question stands.

 And aurora, you ought to see my “extreme privilege,” ;-). All that privilege and three bucks buys me a cup of coffee bigger than I really want anyhow. You’ve already presumed I’ve never experienced any sexual harassment.

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11 hours ago, kfw said:

 the chorister’s male, and given the compositon of the Met’s chorus, he’s probably white. So I’m scratching my head at your theory.

 Also, I didn’t dispute Copely’ s right to decide for himself, I posed alternative options and asked why they weren’t better. We’ve been putting ourselves in the chorister and the director’s shoes all along and offering opinions on their choices – it won’t do now to say “we can’t know what’s best.” My question stands.

I'm sorry, could you please explain what "theory" you are referring to? I'm not sure which theory I have proposed. My recent posts have asserted my opinions only, I believe.

I was referring to the chorus member's right to decide for himself, of course, not to Copley's (note spelling). I haven't been putting myself in anyone's shoes. I've been asserting that people should be able to walk in their own shoes. That principle has been central to my arguments all along. I presume that the chorus member acted in what he felt to be his best interest.

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22 minutes ago, kfw said:

nanushka,  the chorister’s male, and given the compositon of the Met’s chorus, he’s probably white. So I’m scratching my head at your theory.

 Also, I didn’t dispute Copely’ s right to decide for himself, I posed alternative options and asked why they weren’t better. We’ve been putting ourselves in the chorister and the director’s shoes all along and offering opinions on their choices – it won’t do now to say “we can’t know what’s best.” My question stands.

 And aurora, you ought to see my “extreme privilege,” ;-). All that privilege and three bucks buys me a cup of coffee bigger than I really want anyhow. You’ve already presumed I’ve never experienced any sexual harassment.

I do not presume that. I base my assessments only on your statements. All I'll say is that if you have (and you may well have!) it taught you to empathize with the perpetrator rather than the victim, and that is even sadder.

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8 hours ago, aurora said:

It is hard for white men to lose a bit of the dominance they've always had over other groups. 

So you're saying the chorus member is black?

 

8 hours ago, kylara7 said:

This incident takes place in the US, no? The US government requires due process before depriving a person of life, liberty, or property. Private employers and individuals have no such requirement with respect to constitutionality. Employers can and do fire people "at will".

Being fired for being a jack*** in the workplace is not surprising. It's hardly punishment...more like a learning experience. We can hope that Copley has learned (albeit the hard way) that sexual remarks to co-workers/underlings are not acceptable in today's workplace culture. Thank goodness.
 

I imagine what Copley has learnt and I imagine a lot of other people in the business will take on board is that it is extremely unwise to work in the US.

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11 hours ago, aurora said:

I do not presume that. I base my assessments only on your statements. All I'll say is that if you have (and you may well have!) it taught you to empathize with the perpetrator rather than the victim, and that is even sadder.

Wrong terminology, JC isn't a perpetrator, that makes him sound like a criminal, he made an innocuous comment that took offence to.  Had Copley said 'I'd like to bash your brains out and see your blood on the floor' - then you complain to management.

By  the way little has been said about Semiramide, the opera being rehearsed, it's dripping with sex. Making a mildly sexual comment in that context matches the on stage action

 

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1 hour ago, Mashinka said:

I imagine what Copley has learnt and I imagine a lot of other people in the business will take on board is that it is extremely unwise to work in the US.

Problem solved by self-selection then. That will clear the way for other creative people who have better judgement. There is no abusive (or bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, etc.) "genius" out there that can't be replaced by an equally creative person who is not a jerk to others.

I don't think that expecting people not to comment sexually on each other at work (whether it's the retail shop or the opera or Parliament) is a big ask. I find it curious that so many are defending this behaviour and clinging to it. I'm glad I don't work with people who think this is ok or acceptable or not a big deal. And I don't think our artists should have to either.

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13 hours ago, kfw said:

Aurora, talk of what the law says is beside the point. No one thinks all laws are just, even when, as in this case, they are clearly designed to address a very serious problem. We all judge the laws. And despite thinking the chorister overreacted, I wrote that if he was truly traumatized (which we don't know), "I feel for him."

How can it be "beside the point" to cite laws when "the point" being made (at least, I believe it was the point aurora and I were both making in the context quoted here) is that a given action is an example of the type of behavior that constitutes sexual harassment under the law?

(If anyone wants to make specific suggestions as to how the law should be changed, that's another very big discussion that could be had; personally, I don't see a need for such changes at this particular time.)

It is true that a single instance such as Copley's would likely not be actionable under the law, which typically requires behavior (which may include acts of speech) that is "so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment." Copley's remark was likely not "severe" enough to fit the standard, but it is precisely the sort of remark that, as part of a pattern of similar or identical behavior, would indeed be actionable, and I'm sure has been successfully prosecuted in many cases.

But whether it is legally actionable or not is irrelevant to whether it was acceptable for him to have been fired, as kylara7 has quite rightly pointed out:

Quote

The US government requires due process before depriving a person of life, liberty, or property. Private employers and individuals have no such requirement with respect to constitutionality. Employers can and do fire people "at will".

Whether for moral or pragmatic reasons, or both, the Met did not want to be the sort of workplace in which remarks such as Copley's are seen as appropriate; it fired him; problem solved. Copley lost out on a week or two of work for what he did.

 

Edited by nanushka
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8 minutes ago, dirac said:

For the record, insofar as we know, "other people in the business" seem to be siding with Copley, nor have there have been any follow-up news stories with complaints from aggrieved parties (which of course does not bring into question the legitimacy of this chorister's complaint).

Self-selecting people in the business have been siding with Copely publicly, which is their right.  It's hardly a storm of people, nor could it be considered a majority of any kind.  And I didn't say everyone in the business agreed.

I also take the defense of someone who called the complainant a "snitch" with a sack full of salt.

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14 minutes ago, Helene said:

Self-selecting people in the business have been siding with Copely publicly, which is their right.  It's hardly a storm of people, nor could it be considered a majority of any kind.  And I didn't say everyone in the business agreed.

Also, if much of the sourcing for that is still coming just from posts and comments on Norman Lebrecht's blog (I haven't seen any other sources referenced here), that site is notoriously troll-infested (using the term respectfully in its official sense, of course), and the comments there are mostly based on gossip and hearsay. There aren't really any content standards there like we follow here at BA.

Lebrecht is also far from objective on the issue (he's far from objective on many issues, and really has historically demonstrated serious problems when it comes to basic things like facts): his first post was titled "EXCLUSIVE: WHY PETER GELB FIRED UNCLE JOHN COPLEY." It was completely based on hearsay, presented as fact, and subsequently contradicted by the second Times article (which included reference to Copley's having not disputed that newspaper's account).

I haven't seen a more representative sampling of the opinions of people in the business, but I also haven't looked. Perhaps there are other forums where a more representative sampling of views is being voiced; perhaps many of those would still be in favor of Copley, I don't know. But I also get the sense that not many in the opera world are even really talking about it. My partner works in that world, has coworkers with connections across many different organizations within it, and knows far less about the topic than I do just from reading this forum.

(That said, I don't dispute the possibility that there are pockets — even large ones — of outrage; one member here has referenced such sentiments being widely expressed. I'm simply reporting what I've experienced.)

Edited by nanushka
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28 minutes ago, dirac said:

It is true that independent contractors have few if any protections, and that American workers in general lack the protections that workers have earned in other developed countries. I had no idea this was a Good Thing, but live and learn.

I'm confused...are you FOR worker protections or not? Or worker protections for some but not for others? Contradictions abound ;)

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According to the second NYT article, the union represents both the chorister and the director.  I'm not sure why that would be true, if, indeed, the director was a limited-term independent contractor.  Typically, contractors have very little protection, aside from some protections that rarely have teeth.  (An exception being the Washington State ruling that long-term contractors at Microsoft were, in reality, employees, and were entitled to employee benefits.  Companies in Washington State responded by having 18/6 or 12/4 policies, ie, a maximum of X months before having to leave for Y months, to show that they were, indeed, contractors.)

I would say that the way the union used the case to wag its finger at the Met, rather than support the chorister, suggesting that an apology would have been sufficient, is reason it itself for the chorister to bypass the union and go straight to management.

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5 minutes ago, Helene said:

According to the second NYT article, the union represents both the chorister and the director.  I'm not sure why that would be true, if, indeed, the director was a limited-term independent contractor. 

Is it possible that he's represented by the same union but not only in conjunction with his specific job at the Met?

I work in a field in which unions play no role whatsoever, so I'm rather stupid when it comes to how they work and are organized.

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