Yesterday afternoon, after KUOW published Sydney Brownstone’s diligently reported story “Five women accuse Seattle’s David Meinert of sexual misconduct, including rape,” the business owner took to Facebook in an attempt to clear his name.
In the public post Meinert claims he passed multiple polygraph tests, and though he admitted to Brownstone that he has been “handsy” in the past (another word for assault, by the way), he says he didn’t rape anyone. His response was bullshit, yes, but it was expected. Of course he’s going to defend himself — he’s a father, a business owner, a band manager. He has a public image to defend. The real concern is just how quickly some people — including very smart and respectable people in Seattle’s art and music scenes — jumped into the comments to defend and support him.
“How can we not appreciate you being this forthright,” wrote one man.
“I know you as a good person and a decent human being. Hang in there David,” wrote another.
One woman, in a now deleted comment (Meinert posted today that he was deleting some of the supportive comments), wrote: “Some people are more loving and gregarious than others. Keep hugging and sharing your love. So sorry it was misinterpreted.” Meinert gave that comment a “thumbs up.”
Local musicians, past and current business partners, and even some people I consider friends gave his post a “like” or a “love.” Others took to social media to question the validity of what the women told Brownstone, despite the fact that Brownstone spoke to witnesses who were able to corroborate the stories from the time of the alleged instances.
But why? Because he was nice to you? Because you like the fries at his diner or he gave your band a slot at the Capitol Hill Block Party back when he owned it? Because he never raped you?
Though Meinert says he hasn’t raped anyone — I don’t believe him — at the very least he still ADMITS TO DOING MULTIPLE TERRIBLE THINGS. Over the years, I have personally been verbally accosted by Meinert — at least twice that I can remember and once just because I made a joke about a band he manages. Both times, after alerting people to Meinert’s angry and strange hissy fits, numerous people laughed it off saying, “That’s just Dave!”
Here’s the thing: Don't make room for shitty people. Just don’t. We can no longer say, “That’s just how he is.”
If you think someone is a creep, an asshole, or a jerk to you or others, cut them off. Trust your gut. Terrible people so often get away with doing terrible things in part because they can point at all the friends, colleagues, or acquaintances who, directly and indirectly, validate them.
It happened with Matt Hickey. It’s happening again with David Meinert. These men mistreated and assaulted women and took advantage of their own status in the city to keep those victims silent. And I know it sucks to hear, but by laughing off Meinert’s bad attitude or Hickey’s creepy comments, you contributed to the culture that gave them that power.
Instead of making excuses for toxic people, focus on those who are doing good. Make room for those who are being unselfish, kind, and empathetic. They feel like rarities these days, but I promise there really are so many of them. And when a person you like, love, work with, or even just see at the bar sometimes is outed as an abuser, take a deep breath before you jump to their defense. Consider the possibility that there is truth to other people’s experiences. It’s hard to admit that someone you have liked as a person is capable of doing heinous things, but their actions are theirs and theirs alone. The only way it would speak poorly of you is if you continue to stand by them after knowing the truth. (And bless you Riz Rollins and others for saying as much on Meinert’s Facebook page — those who are standing up to Meinert are not going unnoticed right now.)
You do not need the parasites. You do not need to make excuses for them, you do not need to defend them, and you do not need to laugh off their bad behavior as a quirk. If they're able to mistreat one person, they're able to mistreat others, and their abuse can be so much worse than what you see happening in plain sight. You do not need to be polite, you do not need to explain yourself — just cut them loose. They thrive on your kindness, your patience, and, frankly, your indifference. Suffocate them.
Megan Seling was Dan Savage's intern at The Stranger for 13 years. She moved to Nashville in 2013, and she’s currently the culture editor at the Nashville Scene.