Following the latest lawsuit update and showdown with Social Justice Warriors, Pitts posted a letter stating that he would be taking a leave of absence as editor-in-chief at The Escapist, as well as stepping away from his charity organization called Take This.
The letter was posted up on February 11th, 2019 over on Twitter.
— That Russ Pitts (@russpitts) February 11, 2019
In the letter, Pitts wrote…
“Words have meaning. They have power. If they didn’t, then we couldn’t be so wounded by them.
“I co-founded TakeThis.org in 2012 along with Dr. Mark Kline and Susan Arendt because we all hoped that words might also have the power to heal. To prevent tragedy. To save lives. And we were right. The Take This message of “You are not alone” has helped tens of thousands of people dealing with mental health issues around the world. And the org, in its more than six years of life, has grown beyond the three of us standing up in front of a crowd saying “You are not alone” to a thriving, world-class charity organization that has proven it.
“And yet, running a charity has never been my greatest strength. I am not a non-profit administrator. I’m a word person. For better or worse.
“Last week, in addressing a member of the greater games community, I used words that diminished her experience as a survivor of abuse and disrespected her astonishing and inspirational struggle. My words hurt her. I hurt her. I hurt everyone who rightfully admires her for her resilience in the face of an unbelievable amount of suffering. I hurt those who look up to me as a leader in this community. I hurt those who believe in the work I am doing. I hurt my friends, my family, my team. I hurt you.
“That my recent words caused harm to the very people Take This was founded to help is abhorrent to me. And that it might have compromised the trust and faith of those around me is unconscionable. It was not my intent to cause harm. But I know that neither my intent nor my regret can undue the harm I have caused.
“For the past few years, I’ve been slowly stepping out of the day-to-day at Take This, taking on an advisory role, and planning for my own eventual departure. Given the events of the past week, the board of Take This and I have mutually agreed that now is a good time for me to step fully aside to remove myself as a distraction from their good work protecting people at-risk. Effective immediately, I am resigning as chair of the board of Take This, and from the board entirely. Our journey together has ended.
“Further, I will be taking a voluntary leave of absence from Escapist Magazine and Enthusiast Gaming in order that I may focus on the work of understanding and addressing my own failings so that I might win back the trust of those who have supported me. Hopefully I may also find some meaningful way to use my words again for good, instead of harm.
“I am sincerely sorry for th ehurt and doubt my careless words have caused to the community that has given me so much.”
Russ Pitts originally came back To The Escapist for version 2.0 last year under the Enthusiast Gaming label. As the editor-in-chief, Pitts initially stated in early 2018 that The Escapist would leave politics at the door, but it wasn’t long after that he began condemning the former staff and community as being “Alt-Right”. Eventually this led to a defamation suit against Enthusiast Gaming, which began picking up steam in September, and is moving forward after the latest rounds of motions were put into place, including preventing Pitts from deleting any potential evidence via social media.
As noted in the Medium piece by the plaintiff in the suit, on February 8th, 2019 the court granted the defamation suit to move forward to trial with a date yet to be determined.
The overall costs being presented in the defamation suit – including the punitive, general, and aggravated damages – could total up to $100,000 if Enthusiast Gaming is on the losing end of the court battle.
All while this was taking place The Escapist was producing content that didn’t entirely accommodate the feelings of Social Justice Warriors. In particular, Pitts attempted to breakdown #GamerGate by talking separately about what he labeled as the harassment campaign and the ethics campaign. However, SJWs castigated Pitts for even attempting to talk about ethics in journalism in relation to #GamerGate, which resulted in them demanding that The Escapist delete the article, to which Russ Pitts obliged.
He was also taken to task on a separate interview that was posted featuring a female staffer from Riot Games answering some uneasy questions about the company’s sexual harassment controversy, to which the SJWs believed that those questions shouldn’t have been asked and also demanded the removal of that article as well, to which Pitts and the interviews also obliged.
It appears Pitts will no longer have to worry about appeasing anyone at The Escapist for the time being, now that he’s taking a leave of absence. However, it remains to be seen how this will affect the ongoing lawsuit.
(Thanks for the news tip Blaugast)