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Dan Harmon apologizes for sexually harassing one of his Community writers

We’re making progress.

Slowly but surely, the conversations are happening. Tough as they may be. As the #MeToo reckoning enters 2018, we’re moving past accusations and denials and toward making amends and making work and life better for us all.

Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty) closed 2017 with a Tweet offering up a mea culpa of sorts: “This was truly the Year of the Asshole. Myself included. We don’t have to make 2018 the Year of the Mensch but I hope it can be the Year of the Not as Much of an Asshole.”

That caught the attention of comedy writer Megan Ganz (The Onion, Community, Modern Family).

Which led to a public back-and-forth on Twitter. But it didn’t stop there, nor did it stop when media outlets picked up their exchange as the latest example of #MeToo.

This week, Harmon delivered a lengthy apology on his Harmontown podcast — without ever naming Ganz, because he didn’t need to. Harmon’s apology begins at 18:40 of the Jan. 10, 2018, episode of Harmontown: “Don’t Let Him Wipe Or Flush,” after getting advice from other women on it to be part of the solution. “Please talk about how you’re part of the problem,” he says they told him.

“The most clinical way I can put it in fessing up to my crimes is that I was attracted to a writer that I had power over because I was a showrunner. And I knew enough to know that these feelings were bad news. That was easy enough to know. I knew they ran the risk of undercutting people’s faith in my judgement, her faith in her talents, the other writers’ respect for me, the entire production, the audience. I knew that I wasn’t doing anybody any favors by feeling these things. And so I did the cowardly, easiest, laziest thing you could do with you feelings like that: I didn’t deal with them. And in not dealing with them, I made everybody else deal with them. Especially her. Flirty. Creepy. Everything other than overt enough to constitute betraying your live-in girlfriend to whom you’re going home every night, who is actually smart enough and respectful enough to ask you: Do you have feelings for that young writer that you’re talking about? That you’re paying all this attention to? And saying to her: No. Because the trick is if you lie to yourself, you can lie to everybody. It’s really easy. And so that’s what I continued to do. Telling myself and anybody that threatened to confront me with it, that if you thought what I was doing was creepy or flirty or unprofessional, well then, it’s because you were the sexist. You were jealous. I was supporting this person. I’m a mentor. I’m a feminist. It’s your problem, not mine. You’re the one that actually is seeing things through that lens. And so I let myself keep doing it.”

“It’s not as if this person didn’t repeatedly communicate to me the idea that what I was doing was divesting her of a recourse to integrity. I just didn’t hear it, because it didn’t profit me to hear it. And this was, after all, happening to me. Right? So after a season of playing it that way, I broke up with my girlfriend who I had lied to the whole time, while lying to myself. Lied to her about why I was breaking up with her. Because I thought that would make inappropriate feelings for a co-worker appropriate, if I wasn’t involved.”

He stops to ask us to consider where he’s making the mistakes and consider how unremarkable it is, because that’s where he says the danger in all of this lies.

“I went full steam into creeping on my employee…After that season, I got overt about my feelings, after it was wrapped, and said: I love you. And she said the same thing she’d been saying the entire time. In one language or another: ‘Please, don’t you understand that focusing on me like this, liking me like this, preferring me like this, I can’t say no to it. And when you do it, it makes me unable to know whether I’m good at my job.’ And because I finally got to the point where I said to her, oh, this is, I love you, because that’s what I thought it was, when you target somebody for two years. And therefore, it was rejected that way. I was humiliated. And so I continued to do cowardly thing, continued to do the selfish thing. Now I wanted to teach her a lesson. I wanted to show her if she didn’t like being liked in that way, oh boy, she should get over herself. After all, if you’re just going to be a writer, then this is how ‘just writers’ get treated. And that was probably the darkest of it all. I’m going to assume that when she Tweets about it and refers to trauma, that’s probably it. Because I drank, I took pills, I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it, and the entire time I was the one writing her paychecks and was in control of whether she stayed or went, and whether she felt good about herself or not, and said horrible things. Just treated her cruelly. Pointedly. Things I would never, ever have done if she had been male, and if I had never had those feelings for her. And I lied to myself the entire time about it, and I lost my job, I ruined my show, I betrayed the audience. I destroyed everything. And I damaged her internal compass. And I moved on. I never did it before and I will never do it again, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had any respect for women. On a fundamental level, I was thinking about them as different creatures, I was thinking about the ones that I liked as having some special role in my life, and I did it all by not thinking about it. So I just want to say, in addition to obviously being sorry, but that’s really not the important thing. I did it by not thinking about it. And I got away with it, by not thinking about it. And if she hadn’t mentioned something on Twitter, I would’ve continued to not have to think about it. Although I did walk around with my stomach in knots about it. But I wouldn’t have had to talk about it. And the last and most important thing I can say is just think about it. No matter who you are at work, or where you’re working, no matter what you’re field you’re in, no matter what position you have over or under or side-by-side with somebody, just think about it. You’ve gotta. Because if you don’t think about it, you’re going to get away with not thinking about it. And you can cause a lot of damage that is technically legal. And hurts everybody. I think that we’re living in a good time right now, because we’re not going to get away with it anymore. If we can make it a normal part of our culture that we think about it, and possibly talk about it, then maybe we can get to a better place where that stuff doesn’t happen.”

Ganz accepted his apology.

We need more conversations and we need to move society forward. It’s important for women to come forward. It’s important for any victim to come forward, to know they’ll be heard. Not just by their accusers. But by all of us, as well. And to know that we won’t stand for these injustices any longer.

It’s on all of us to wake each other up, so we can all live brighter days to come.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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