A response to Artem Krasnoslobodtsev’s so-called apology

On August 7, 2013, Artem Krasnoslobodtsev wrote a letter to The Tech in which he attempted to apologize to the MIT community and to those whom he had hurt in 2007. At that time, he sent an email to the Sloan LBGT Group insulting them for being LBGT and threatening their lives. The Committee on Discipline cut him some slack and placed him on probation: if he had one more infraction, he would have been expelled.

Let’s be honest: this letter was not an apology.

A public apology letter should not be an attempt to publicly redeem oneself. Rather, the letter should have focused on those who he harmed.

If the letter’s author instead focuses on their own trials and tribulations, then they are expressing selfishness instead of true concern for those they harmed. For instance, Krasnoslobodtsev concludes his letter by purporting that joining the military somehow places him in tune with the fight for social justice. However, the claim is simply proposed without justification. And some might even posit that such a claim is purely oxymoronic.

A letter so far after the transgression could attempt to demonstrate to others that they, too, can “change” their opinions and behaviors. However, Krasnoslobodtsev’s letter fails to meet these standards. For a letter to reach these goals, the language needs to be much more explicit as to what it is trying to achieve. That is, the wrongdoer needs to explain exactly how they have changed, rather than just claiming that they have done so.

Furthermore, victims deserve at the very least an email or something more personal than a letter addressed to the entire MIT community. If the victims are not interested or willing to meet with the perpetrator, one cannot be surprised. On a different token, if the offender is pursuing some form of restorative justice, said individual should have actually done something on a grander scale for those that they have harmed.

In addition, a public letter that expresses an apology to everyone who “felt offended or threatened,” as Krasnoslobodtsev’s does, is unnecessary. Rather, Krasnoslobodtsev should have seized the public forum available to him and apologized to the entire MIT community, whether or not they felt offended or threatened. Verily, for the actions that he committed, and for those similar ones committed by others, everyone in the MIT community deserves an apology for their disgraceful actions.

With regard to the Committee on Discipline (COD) in particular, that system is clearly broken in some form. The committee members should not take into account other individuals’ testimonials of the malefactor’s supposedly great character. Instead, that individual’s actions should speak for themselves. In Artem’s case in specific, the fact that “everyone” knows that he was “not a violent or rude person” should not have factored into the COD’s decision. Using his letters of so-called “support” merely minimized his actions. Indeed, anyone who threatens the lives of other students, including Krasnoslobodtsev, should be expelled by the COD.

Essentially, an apology letter to the public needs to actually apologize to those that were harmed and have an especial focus on them, rather than focus on the author’s life. Otherwise, the perception is that the author is trying to redeem themselves in a public forum, perhaps for some selfish reason.

Cory Hernandez is member of the Class of 2014.