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What happened at the Avocado

I’ve been sitting on this for a long time, over two years now, because, frankly, I would rather forget about it, and because I wanted to get some collaborators here at the Leftorium who can confirm my stories and have the inside information. But I can’t forget about it, and given the campaign of character assassination, harassment, and stalking I was subject to, I want the full story to be told. So I’m writing it up myself. (subsaharan and Mindy are willing to put their names on this as signatories as well.)

I’m going to tell the story of what really happened in the creation of the Leftorium and that led me and several others to be banned from the Avocado, lest their version of events be the only one on record.

Fair warning: Because a lot of this is old and I’m not digging through a website that treated me like this, I don’t have primary sources for everything handy (though I have included enough that I hope my story is well supported). You’re going to have to make my word on those things, almost all of which I have experienced directly, save a couple of stories I’ve been told by other trusted people. (And, as you may know, Mindy was a moderator on that site and thus privy to the moderator discussions that are not public record; those will be cited here as well.) If you think I’m unreliable or untrustworthy, just stop reading now. The rest of you… the story is told below.

When the AV Club switched their commenting system away from Disqus, many of the commenters there decided to make a spinoff Disqus forum which eventually spun into its own site, the Avocado. I was one of those people and ended up writing a bunch of articles for them.

However, over time it became increasingly clear to me that two of the moderators, Wafflicious and MrsLangdonAlger, did not run the forum by their stated values of inclusiveness and being a welcoming place, and primarily enforced rules based on their own egos. If you flatter them, you can do anything you want and at worst you’ll get a gentle reprimand; if they don’t like you, you’re persona non grata and they’ll ignore abuse directed at you or try to find ways to bait you into doing something they can ban you for. They ran the website through terror, keeping people in fear of their narcissism and propensity to abuse their power, through their own actions and those of various posters and other moderators acting as their flunkies. I’ll detail my own experience in support of this statement further.

The politics discussions on the Avocado took a bog-standard liberal turn, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that anyone to the left of MSNBC was constantly the subject of verbal abuse and character attacks. These are explicitly forbidden there, but the moderators simply told us to ignore them when they happened to us. That is, when the moderators themselves weren’t participating in the abuse. Wafflicious called me a racist, a sexist, a liar who only pretended to care about victims of sexual assault, and told me to go fuck myself– among many other insults, bad-faith attacks, and confrontational behavior. And she did so not for any crime worse than vocally supporting Bernie Sanders and not backing down to her bullying. This same person calls my disagreement with her “Hillary Clinton is Jesus” politics literal abuse.

Some of us– including Mindy, who was still a moderator there– decided to make a space for more explicitly left-wing politics, starting the weekly Leftorium thread at the Avocado.

However, Wafflicious took this personally; her ego would simply not allow a space on the Avocado to the left of her politics. (She said as much in the moderator chats, that she felt such a space was a personal attack on her.) So she started posting deliberately inflammatory comments in Leftorium articles and picking fights with people, then giving them warnings and bans when they stood up for themselves or responded in kind. (As well as indulging in other petty behaviors like obsessively downvoting Leftorium regulars or posts to the left of the MSNBC-liberal position– while complaining elsewhere on the site about downvoting as toxic behavior.) MrsLangdonAlger used this to blame us for being unable to “play nice” on the site. (This is in keeping with their pattern of bad-faith attacks and abuse hurled at other people, while crying victim and calling people abusers if they ever stood up for themselves.) So one week without telling us, she deliberately scheduled the weekly Leftorium thread early and gave it to Matt Scanlon, a vocal right-wing imperialist who habitually stalks the social media accounts of left-wing posters.

That made it very clear how unwelcome we were, so we decided to make our own website. (Keep in mind that our moderator here was a major force in designing and running the Avocado as a stand-alone website; MLA didn’t want to do it, and didn’t do any of the backend work on it, but once it was done, she quickly took all the credit for it. She also promoted Wafflicious to moderator without consulting anyone else. None of the work our moderator did prevented them from treating her like they treat the rest of the Leftorium gang.)

Of course, this wasn’t good enough for them; they continued to stalk the new site and add regular posters and commenters to their blacklist. (Again, we can confirm this. And you can take a look for yourself at all the downvotes on comments from the earlier articles here– a number of people with a history of stalking who were still welcome at the Avocado stalking us for no reason other than to downvote comments.) This is in conjunction with the fact that they took this stalking to a new level outside the site– Matt Scanlon was already fond of stalking people’s social media to post in the politics threads, but this expanded to efforts from other people as well, and continued long after we stopped posting on the Avocado. (Despite it being against the rules and generally creepy as well as morally loathsome to stalk people in this fashion, no one ever got reprimanded for stalking us. Because we are personae non grata.)

The final straw came in August 2018, when I made a comment in a thread about the moderation– not even a particularly inflammatory one– in response to someone who was essentially trying to tell a woman that her experience in the politics thread didn’t happen. MLA replied to me with something about “making comments mocking victims of sexual assault.”

The comment I made she was referring to– on this website, mind you, not the Avocado– was, in reference to MLA and Wafflicious, “they’d rather have pedophiles than people who don’t love Hillary Clinton enough.” I believe this to be true.

I’ll give you Lilith as an example. Lilith is 40-ish and has made multiple posts and threads on the Avocado defending child pornography and possibly worse (I couldn’t confirm this). When called out, he not only angrily defends himself, but runs to other websites we post on demanding an apology. (Imagine the nerve it takes to demand an apology because you feel entitled to child sex.) I don’t think anyone would post such things regularly if they weren’t trying to create a space where they could normalize pedophilia. But because he sucks up to Wafflicious and MLA, and calls them wonderful and brave, they don’t care and are happy to have him around. I think it’s clear at this point they have much more love for Lilith than for anyone who posts at the Leftorium.

It’s also not the only time the Avocado has enabled pedophiles, as one source who was underage at the time tells us about multiple run-ins with regular (adult) posters there who tried to engage the underage poster in discussions about their masturbation habits, or made arguments that adults should be allowed to fuck teenagers.

Therefore, I believe my conclusion– they would rather have pedophiles (Lilith) than people who don’t love Hillary Clinton enough (me, the rest of the Leftorium crew)– is correct, and I won’t apologize for that. They, of course, framed it as “mocking victims of sexual assault,” because there’s nothing they won’t weaponize in service of their narcissistic power trip. (Of course, when they bully me or talk badly about me– direct quote from MLA from the moderator chat: “I’d say Ruck just needs to get laid, but allegedly he has a wife. Maybe she just won’t put out.”– it’s never framed as bullying someone with my history of trauma and PTSD and everything I’ve been through, because I’m not a person to them. I also don’t weaponize my identity and my past in that fashion. As a friend of mine recently said about someone else, “She thinks her trauma gives her license to abuse people,” which applies to both MLA and Wafflicious.)

So I stood up for myself. And, of course, I was subject to a torrent of verbal abuse. When that didn’t get me to leave, the other moderators, most prominently Lutair, tried to bully me off the site, and even made very mean-spirited insinuations about my family. Again, of course, they promote themselves as a tolerant and inclusive community, but there is no level too low for them to sink when it comes to attacking people who aren’t in their exclusive club of Good People. When I still wouldn’t leave, they just banned me even though I hadn’t broken any rules.

Of course, they were happy to take credit for my work there when it suited them, such as when Patton Oswalt RTed my A.P. Bio season 1 finale writeup. According to MLA, that wasn’t because of the quality of the writing I did; it was because she’s such a great website moderator. (I moved all of my television articles to the Leftorium, but many other articles I’ve written were lost when they removed my author privileges before banning me.)

They even bullied someone I was talking to on our site here, a woman who was a regular at the Avocado, into deleting her account. (Way to treat women, you woke feminists!) 

Keep in mind that their major justification for banning me was comments made on my own website, not theirs. Keep in mind that I didn’t actually break any rules to the degree of getting banned, even after multiple mods were trying to bully me into quitting the site. Keep in mind that the comments I made on my own site were protesting how they treated someone like me, who wrote dozens of articles and made loads of other content for the site but didn’t suck up to those two, vs. people who do suck up to them and are literal child predators, defending child pornography (wow, two extended examples!) and trying to engage underage posters in explicit sexual discussion, men over 40 we’re talking here.

And, as I mentioned before, some of them continued to stalk my social media for months afterward, something I learned from some of our comrades here who still (inexplicably in my view) read and posted there for a while. (Aside, if you’re wondering how I have so many direct sources from the time since I was banned, that’s why.) Of course, nothing was done about it, nor about the insinuations on my mental health, which I’m sure will happen again if the Avocado cult finds this post– it’s obviously the fault of the person who was aggressively bullied for years, not the bullies, because the bullies are in the cult. (For the record, the only thing I said to John Teti was to warn him he was signing up to write for a site run by abusive bullies who enable pedophiles and stalkers.)

This is the kind of website MLA and Wafflicious ran: An ostensible pop culture website that’s really an excuse for two narcissistic bullies and their flunkies to indulge their ego and power trip, enabling and engaging in all sorts of vile, grotesque behavior as long as the people doing it sufficiently flatter them, convinced that they are righteous so nothing they do can be bad.

I just wanted a pop culture website I could talk about TV and music and post Simpsons memes. The Avocado should’ve been that, but instead, it’s mutated into a monstrous place, an insular culture where people tiptoe around the tyrannical moderators but insist it’s woke and welcoming and inclusive. MLA and Wafflicious turned a pop culture website into a cultish, abusive culture, and repeatedly and persistently targeted me directly with that abuse.

I don’t know what this will accomplish at this point. Maybe it’s just to get some closure for myself, some peace of mind about something that’s been bothering me for a long time, as it would any person who worked hard to be part of and build a community and was subject to such levels of abuse from said community. (I guarantee you if they find this they’ll claim it shows I’m mentally ill and obsessive.) It bothers me because my story has not been told, my character smeared and a whole lot of people thinking I’m some kind of monster. (I haven’t forgotten who called me that.) Now you know what happened. And if you still post over there and something doesn’t feel right about the culture but you’ve been afraid to speak up, now you know why.

And if you’re an Avocado poster who still loves the site, and you read all of this assuming I was telling the truth, you read this knowing Mindy and sub signed off on it because they believe it to be fully true and accurate, you read how I was treated and how other people were treated, and you still want to rage out at me for posting this:

Post-script: Sometime last year the moderator who designed the backend resigned, with a litany of complaints very similar to what are being expressed here and largely about the same people (with a bonus dose of transphobia from the other moderators, which I don’t believe I’ve covered yet):

I don’t know if that resulted in any changes (and I’m never going back, so I’m not going to find out), but the poster in question has no reason to show solidarity with us or take our side here– so if you have some doubts about what you’ve read here, hopefully this will quell them. (For the record, the reason I haven’t mentioned Dropwing in this article is because that person was not a mod when I posted there and I have no memory of them as a poster.)

In conclusion, here are some of those Simpsons memes.