Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The hatriarchy: musings on rape culture, xenophobia, racism and other nasty business


I've added a few links and clarifications to this post since it was first published, and even amended the title.
~ CC, March 6, 2016

Please note that although I don't directly address homophobia in this post (which was written before the oppression of LGBTQ people became a faux-issue for the right in the wake of the June 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting), my points about the hatreds and hypocrisies of the right apply to homophobia as they do to misogyny/rape culture, racism and xenophobia. The point is that the hatriarchs only seem to express concern for certain groups of the downtrodden when they can do so in the service of treading on some other marginalized group -- in this case, Muslims.

Also absent from the body of this post, in the context of discussing rape culture, is now-NOT-MY-President-Elect Donald Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy" remark, which had not yet been revealed to the world when this piece was originally published and when it was amended.

~ CC, December 2016



Before I get started I'll say that if you are having a sense of deja vu when reading this, it's probably because you and I are acquainted on Facebook, and large chunks of this post are based upon some long screeds I've written there. (Why reinvent the wheel?) And while it may be true that the topics are somewhat beyond the normal scope of this blog, it is also true that I have been known to veer off-course here on occasion (like and here and here); in any case it's all pertinent enough to my usual beat -- and to matters in which I've been interested for much of my life -- to warrant a mention on this Whirled. 
 
Though I make it a point to keep my Facebook "friends" list pared to a minimum, I wanted to take this conversation to a marginally larger audience, fully realizing that this may end up being merely another monologue. In no way do I delude myself that I am addressing these serious subjects in anything but my customary profoundly shallow manner, but this is a start. I'm fully aware that by tackling rape culture, xenophobia and racism all on one post I am giving short shrift to all of these matters, and perhaps I should have broken this down into several posts.


But in my mind the topics are interrelated because they are part of a larger problem that, for lack of a more descriptive or more precise term, could be called "hate culture," and a very big reason they engaged me on Facebook and now on this blog is that they have all come to the forefront as the US presidential campaign season heats up. I didn't coin the term "hatriarchy" but it seemed appropriate here, so I added it to the post's title. Beyond that I've tried, through cheap tricks such as transitions, to craft this as a somewhat cohesive whole. 
 
Finally, I know this is long-ish -- after all, I'm juggling several balls here (no snickering, please) -- but that's nothing new on this blog. I thank you for taking the time to read.

So here we go.
.

Rape culture in the New-Wage world
Let's begin with the premise that has the most obvious connection to my beat: sexual predation is one of the worst-kept secrets of the New-Wage/McSpirituality/selfish-help/alt-health world. Certainly
sexual predation and abuse occur in the more traditional religious realms as well -- and there have been numerous highly publicized examples of that -- but the New-Wage/McSpirituality etc. industry is and always has been a free-for-all, with a low bar for entry and almost zero accountability on either the professional or personal level. Part of the problem lies in the new-agey code of silence that discourages negativity and anything that might be considered "judgmental." Accordingly a subtle kind of rape culture, thinly veiled in the flowery language of spirituality, transcendence, and personal growth, is allowed to flourish.

I'll acknowledge right off the bat that the very term "rape culture" is steeped in controversy. Many people -- mostly men, it seems, but some women as well -- hate that term. And maybe you're not comfortable with it either, at least in this context. How could it be rape, you might ask, if it occurs between two consenting adults, which, when we're talking about gurus and their followers is often (though certainly not always) the case?

But this question is a product of the mindset that defines rape strictly as forcible sexual intercourse, in which the rapist physically incapacitates and/or overpowers the victim. Millions of words have been written to counter this notion, and laws of course vary from one jurisdiction to another. I like the way Salty Droid addressed the issue a few times on his blog,
such as this fairly recent post.
But it was manipulation that was alleged :: not force … which is how it ended up a SaltyDroid matter. “It was manipulation not force” could be the repetitive title of almost every post on this...site.

In an earlier post he wrote:
Lying is how assholes get sex. Most people won’t have sex with an asshole on purpose :: so assholes have evolved various guises and disguises to cloak their wretched stink from nice people for just long enough to steal a one night stand...

...It’s not cool {or okay even} to lie someone out of their pants :: but the whole
pick-up artist “industry” is basically built on it … and in most states and countries it’s not a crime to check your decency at the door of the club...

...Rape statutes in America tend to require both a lack of consent … and old-school force. Rape by fraud or manipulation :: while clearly a real thing that’s happening all the time … isn’t seen as a real thing by governments wary of regulating messy interpersonal complexities.
In this new century information is power :: and words are force more often than force is force … but most of our laws were written for a less complex world that no longer exists. In the absence of responsive and adaptive government :: and partially consequent of our continued societal refusal to admit that manipulation is possible {/easy} … exists a festering black hole of unchecked darkness.

If I were to address this issue with the care it actually deserves, this blog post would be a book that I'm far from qualified to write. Or at the very least it would be
an online debate about whether rape culture even exists, and for the most part that too is beyond the scope of this post or this blog, notwithstanding some of the thoughts I'll share below. So I'll only acknowledge the ambiguity and controversy, adding that if you're truly bothered by "rape culture" -- a term that I warn you right now I am going to use throughout this post -- then you have my permission to silently substitute "sexual predation" for "rape." I say this even though in some cases alluded to here, "rape" is probably the correct word.

For my part, I've skewered several sexually predatory types on this Whirled over the years. They're not necessarily prominent or high profile, but they are public figures and therefore blogworthy -- and in my opinion, based upon what I feel are credible reports, they have managed to do some harm. Examples include a hokey "spiritual" performance artist and total phony who is mostly based in Hawaii and calls himself "Dreaming Bear" (this account is particularly disturbing); a huckster named Dain Heer who is co-leader of the sex-obsessed, vaguely Scientology-like Access Consciousness; a Sri Lankan slime named Tilak who had a few moments in the sun (and on Maui) with The Secret scampire founder Rhonda Byrne; and of course a certain German cancer quack, Leonard Coldwell, who calls himself "Dr. C" and who happens to be the subject of the above-linked Salty posts.

"Dr." C's alleged predation was covered in more detail on Salty's blog and on other blogs than it ever was on this one. In this area I have mostly concentrated on his general misogyny and his silly attempts to make himself look like a ladies' man. But he definitely deserves a place in the alleged predator's Hall of Shame. And although Coldwell is mostly an alt-health guru -- and far more right-wing than most new-agers -- he panders to McSpirituality and motivational fans too when it suits him, and even to the Christian contingent. (As I've noted many times before, there is considerable overlap among pop spirituality, self-help, alt-health and so forth.)

Though he has never to my knowledge actually been charged with rape or any other sexual offense, Coldwell seems to be obsessed with the subject and has very strong opinions about it. In late 2015, for example, he wrote on his main English-language Facebook page that no woman can be raped unless she wants to be. I mentioned that declaration
previously on this blog, as did Bernie and Longdog on their respective blogs, but it's certainly worth another mention, though the post itself may be long gone from Lenny's Facebook page.He had written his remark in response to a piece that appeared on conspiracy/hate-monger Alex Jones' Infowars site, regarding a news story of a Swedish woman who was apparently raped by an Iraqi whom she mistakenly thought was a refugee. According to the story, she was reluctant at first to report the rape because she felt compassion for what she thought was the plight of her assailant. Coldwell's post about the matter was disturbing not only for its misogyny but also for its racism; he said that no "white man" would want to have sex with "that thing," that "disgusting whore" after she had been raped by a Muslim. I was floored; that was a new low even for him.

I think it safe to say that sexual predation not only exists but flourishes in New-Wage/McSpirituality culture.
Here's some insight into how to spot it (thanks to my pal Jody Radzik of the Guruphiliac blog for alerting me to this article). And here's some more about the ex-rabbi-turned-New-Wage-guru featured in that article.

Are you disgusted yet? Wait, there's more. 



There's Doosh. I mean, Roosh. No, I was right the first time. 
The pick-up artist (PUA), or seduction/persuasion industry, has staked a claim at the slimy, misogynistic intersection of New-Wage/selfish-help and the more blatant manifestations of Western rape culture. Salty Droid tackled one PUA creep -- Eben Pagan, aka David DeAngelo -- on his blog a few years ago, and ended up snaring another one in his net during the discussion following the post (Ross Jeffries of Speed Seduction infamy).

Of the several "stars" of this industry, few have attracted more attention recently than Daryush Valizadeh, more commonly known as Roosh Vörek or Roosh V or simply Roosh. RationalWiki, to which I linked at the beginning of this section, sums him up quite well, in my opinion:

Daryush Valizadeh (known by his Internet alias Roosh Vörek or Roosh V) is an American manosphere denizen, misogynist, rape apologist, pick-up artist, and sex tourist.[1] Roosh runs a number of clickbaity websites that make up some of the darkest corners of the manosphere, including his personal blog RooshV, the repugnant Return of Kings,[2] and the now-defunct[3] pro-Gamergate and anti-"SJW" Reaxxion.
If you're not familiar with any of the above, follow some of those links and prepare to be revolted (but hopefully not inspired). Roosh is at the forefront of a whole new toxic generation of misogynyists, about which, I confess, I've been pretty naive until recently.

Doosh has widely been criticized by feminists and other sane people the world over for seeming to advocate legal rape, though he insists that he has been misunderstood and that his most infamous post, where he came out and said that rape on private property should be legal, was intended as satire.
But it seems to me that the writing is on the wall, or on his websites and in his books, and it's pretty clear. If this isn't a clear indication of rape culture/misogyny, what is it?

For those who have the stomach for it, his
Return of Kings site is a treasure trove, or rather a trash trove, of insights into the dark recesses of the modern misogynist mind. The site welcomes contributions from others besides Roosh, so you get a variety of disgustingness, like this startling revelation about women's true nature, supposedly confided to a guy named Bob Smith by a hot woman while she was dying of cancer. I first learned of that piece via the fabulous We Hunted the Mammoth blog (which in turn I learned about from journalist and author Jef Rouner).

Given his inflammatory and frequently expressed opinions about women, sex and relationships, it's no surprise that Doosh has come under fire so many times. He made international news recently when, fearing for his safety and that of his fellow rape warriors, he felt it necessary to cancel a planned international "meetup" of manly men (
this is one of hundreds of stories about the incident). But like so many other scammers and scalawags, he has attempted to turn it all around and frame it as victimization -- of him, of course, and by extension of all red-blooded hetero men everywhere. He has made a secondary career of whining that he and his ilk are victims of "political correctness" (PC), that they are being repressed and oppressed by "social justice warriors" (SJWs), and that they are being wrongfully accused of being "thought criminals." He speaks of "massive outrages" against himself and his allies, perpetrated by "the establishment" who don't want them to organize offline. In that sense he reminds me very much of... someone else.

Now, I should make it clear that I don't condone violence/death threats against anyone, no matter how douche-y that person may appear to be. Nor do I condone harassment or
"doxing" -- invasion-of-privacy acts such as publishing the home address of a Doosh-y person or that person's relatives. Never mind that in this case some amusing things about Doosh came out. It still wasn't right. That said, the man himself and his entire body of work are reprehensible. Yet he apparently has thousands of followers, many of whom seem only too happy to claim that they too are being oppressed and repressed.

And not only is Doosh claiming oppression, he is also apparently fighting some of his critics with lawsuits, or threats thereof. For example,
he is threatening to sue blogger S. Jane Gari, who told the story of an Icelandic woman who'd accused Doosh of rape (and again, thanks to We Hunted the Mammoth for this story). Here is Roosh's side of the story.

I was somewhat distressed to learn the other day that free-speech champion
Marc Randazza is Doosh's lawyer in this matter. Here is a link to the intimidation email that Randazza sent to the blogger in question. I had actually thought that Randazza was one of the good guys, mainly due to his well-publicized battles on behalf of the First Amendment and, by extension, the rights of certain bloggers, one of whom I've grown quite fond of over the years. For instance, Randazza's responses to a rabid blogger named Crystal Cox, who is so wackadoodle that she even makes Loony Coldwell look almost-but-not-quite sane, were classic, I thought. "Sunshine is the best disinfectant," said Mr. R. "The cure for bad speech is more speech." Yep, that's always been one of my guiding principles on this blog.

And granted, Doosh and other douches, like...oh... Loony Coldwell for instance, have just as much of a right to free speech as I do. It's a basic right that I've always supported even as I've criticized the content of said speech. (I only reported Coldwell's content to law enforcement when I seriously believed that he was actually endangering me by publicly and repeatedly posting my home address and cell phone number after falsely accusing me of fatally poisoning his beloved dog and "seminar mascot," Blue, and inviting his craziest fans to get in touch with me. But I have always supported Coldwell's basic right to tell outrageous lies about me -- lies that I am an AIDS-infected prostitute, a mentally ill drug addict, a sexual predator and of course a Big Pharma shill -- which he has been doing since 2012.)

The point is that it could rightfully be said that Randazza's support of Doosh is consistent with his support of free-expression/First Amendment principles. More importantly, Randazza's involvement with Doosh centers around Doosh's claim that he has been falsely accused of rape by the woman in Iceland, and that Doosh, like anyone else accused of a crime, has a legal as well as moral right to face his accuser. In other words, Randazza's concern here is the alleged defamation of Doosh by a popular blogger, and his first step in advocating for his client was, not surprisingly, to try to intimidate the blogger into revealing the name and contact info of the woman making the accusation. After all, one's right to free speech presumably ends where defamation begins, although the line is all too often fuzzy.

But as the Mammoth blogger writes:

...I need not remind most of you of the many times that Roosh has described other sexual encounters that have led many people to describe his books as “rape guides.” (If you do need reminding, I have examined many of these instances in a post you can find here.)

So, far from being the literally incredible story that Roosh’s lawyer insists that it is, one so implausible that no one who “examined this story with any amount of rigor … could [possibly] believe it to be true,” “Sarah’s” story not only matches Roosh’s own version of events in many key details but it also describes Roosh using tricks that are consistent with his MO, as spelled out in his books and blog posts. What’s more, most of Roosh’s specific denials, as I’ve shown above, are contradicted by his own writings.

In Roosh’s version of the story. he follows a woman he’s only spoken to very briefly home from a bar even though she tells him repeatedly not to; he uses the excuse of having to use her bathroom to get into her house, after which she thanks him for walking him home and then has consensual sex with him.

In “Susan’s” version of the story, as told by Gari, Roosh follows a woman he’s only spoken to very briefly home from a bar even though she tells him repeatedly not to; he uses the excuse of having to use her bathroom to get into her house. After learning that she’s there alone, he tries to get her to touch his penis; when she resists he grabs her and rapes her.

Again, I ask you which seems the most plausible.

But Roosh insists that he has never done any of the things that the Icelandic woman accused him of doing, and he speculates that she (or the blogger who told her story) simply cherry-picked bits and pieces from his work and cobbled together a horror story that has no basis in truth. And some of his fans agree and want to see him sue for this "rape hoax."

Maybe the truth will come out, and maybe not. Maybe it is already out. If it is a lie, then shame on those responsible for crafting it. As one who knows what it's like to be falsely accused,  I think everyone has a right to counter accusations if in fact they are false. But if it's not a lie, then shame on Doosh (shame on him anyway for all the Doosh-y things he has said, written and done). And if the blogger is absolutely certain about the veracity of the story she should stand her ground and not allow herself to be intimidated.

For now I can only guess at the reasons Randazza chose to tackle this matter, but in any case my image of him as a big hero was tarnished somewhat after a little casual Googling that I did upon learning of his involvement with Doosh. Judging by this November 2015 piece on the Ars Technica site, which had nothing to do with Doosh, it seems that
I may have been a tad on the naive side.
 
And regardless of whether this defamation case ever comes to fruition, it seems clear to me that in general Doosh is framing his ongoing struggles as a First Amendment/freedom of expression matter. I'm reminded, inevitably, of now-imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, who has used and continues
to use the First Amendment to frame his story in order to persuade the gullible to buy into his scams. Roosh is clearly using his own woes to paint himself as a hero and a champion for manhood, who has been falsely and egregiously accused of being a "thought criminal." He has built a following of sad, angry and desperate men who apparently feel validated just by standing in the shadow of his overly inflated ego, and who seem only too glad to identify as fellow martyrs to the PC/SJW forces.

But there's a whole big bad world beyond Doosh and the New-Wage hucksters. And this is where xenophobia and racism really enter the picture.

Rape culture in the larger world: "Where's the outrage?"
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the ways that many conservatives callously dismiss the entire notion that there is a rape culture in the U.S. or indeed in the West at all. The above-mentioned story on Alex Jones' site -- the story to which Loony Coldwell reacted with such hatred for the rape victim -- is a good case in point. The author of that piece is a prolific hate-monger/misogynist in his own right named
Paul Joseph Watson, who has preached that rape culture in the West is a non-issue. He and so many others scoff when someone mentions Western rape culture, or for that matter when someone talks about the "war on women." Like Roosh and his lot, they sneer about PC and SJWs.

Over the years I have cycled through several stages of conviction in regard to issues about feminism and sexism and "social justice" in general. For instance, when I first "discovered" feminism many, many years ago I was gung-ho and righteously angry about the many forms of sexism that existed in the culture. I cut my teeth on the likes of
Robin Morgan and Kate Millett and Germaine Greer and Susan Brownmiller and Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir. But I found it impossible to maintain my initial level of righteous anger over the years, and I expanded my frame of reference to take in "men's issues" too.

I was in fact very sympathetic to the "men's movement" in its earlier forms, though like so many others I made fun of the Wild Man stuff. (And I fully acknowledge that some of today's men's rights activists are angry and creepy and dangerous; see the Doosh stuff above.) But the point is that I became willing, and remain willing, to see things from the point of view of men who are living in a post-feminist society.
Here's a long rumination on some of that, if you're interested and haven't already read it; most of the parts relevant to the present topic begin under the subhead, "A little HIS-tory (and, inevitably, some Cosmic Connie her-story)," but you might want to read the entire post to get all of the context.

I also acknowledge that there are indeed cases when people who are sensitive to sexism -- or racism or any other form of "ism" -- sometimes see it where it doesn't exist or wasn't intended, or they make what I think of as too big a deal out of a minor faux pas or a few ill-chosen words by some celebrity or other. And in regard to rape (since, after all, this post is supposed to be about "rape culture"), I am very well aware that false accusations do happen and that they can and do devastate the accused. I have known people to whom this happened and I get it. (In the cease-and-desist mentioned above, Marc Randazza cited the infamous Rolling Stone/University of Virginia case, in which a young woman accused members of a fraternity of gang-raping her. Rolling Stone published the story and then had to retract it later when it was revealed that the accusations were false.)

But I also get the argument that notwithstanding the occasional sensational false-accusation case, and despite the fact that some forms of sexism are mostly annoying but basically innocuous, we in the US and in the West are indeed living in a rape culture, much as many of us would like to think otherwise. The aforementioned Roosh-bag is but one of the more flagrant examples. More often than not, the manifestations of rape culture in the West are more subtle -- and therefore more insidious -- than the PUA/manospheric variety, and certainly more subtle than the rape culture in other parts of the world, but undeniably it exists.

And this brings me to one of my main points: to be outraged by the rape culture of the West does not mean that one denies the existence of rape culture in other societies. Yet the right, including the religious right, has almost gleefully adopted a sense of outrage at the blatant and truly awful examples of rape culture in various Middle Eastern (read: Muslim) societies, and has exploited those examples in an attempt to indict the left/liberals/anyone concerned with rape culture in the West. They also use it to indict anyone who dares express compassion for refugees.

In addition, as terrorist attacks and Muslim immigrants have come to the forefront in the news, the right has embraced the "where's the outrage?" theme with a passion. And so often they use women's issues as their hook. "Where is the left's outrage about the horrible ways women are treated under Sharia law?" they ask. "Why aren't liberals and feminists concerned about child rape, child marriage, 'honor killings' (or gross disfigurement such as burning) of women?" These are pointed questions, almost invariably followed by the standard scoffing about "political correctness." Obviously, according to those making these arguments, the left/libs/feminists etc. are placing "political correctness" above basic human decency and morality.

This is not only a red herring -- a deliberate attempt to distract from the issues that make the right uncomfortable -- but also a false dichotomy on a couple of levels. As I said above: to be outraged by more subtle forms of rape culture does NOT preclude outrage at the more blatant and horrifying forms. But many on the right would have us believe that it's one or the other, with no nuances, nothing in between. A false dichotomy also exists in regard to the latest refugee/migrant crisis in Europe and potentially in the US -- the Syrians, of course. The anti-Muslim crusaders are out in force: they are not only claiming that most of the refugees are terrorists in disguise who are plotting to take over Murica and rape all the wimmen and enslave the children, but they are also blathering about Sharia law and posting disturbing Facebook memes -- as if liberals are ignorant about these matters, and as if welcoming Syrian refugees, or even merely expressing sympathy for their plight, is the same thing as condoning terrorism or advocating or adopting Sharia law in the US.

But there is another level on which today's right is egregiously misguided when they ask, "Where's the outrage?" This is particularly true when it comes to issues about women's well-being, which many on the right only seem to care about, or pretend to care about, when they're verbally beating up on Muslim immigrants or trying to gut Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights. The truth is that the left -- and particularly the feminist left -- has been calling out other cultures' horrendous abuse of women for decades. They were doing it before many of the younger loudmouths decrying "political correctness" were even born. They were doing it back when the right was still making fun of "women's libbers" for burning bras (something that was only associated with a single demonstration in 1968 and apparently didn't even happen,
but became the rallying symbol for anti-feminists of the era). The feminist left was shouting about global abuse of women and children back when the right couldn't care less about frightened four-year-old girls being betrothed to fat, pervy 50-year-old dudes in some far-flung country in the Middle East.

Ms. Magazine, launched in 1972 and still going strong, often covered these issues, and the feminist and leftist press in general ran exposes over the years. And I have a copy of a 1976 paperback titled, Crimes Against Women: The Proceedings of the International Tribunal. The book summarized a conference that covered atrocities all around the globe -- Western cultures included -- e.g. violent rape, culturally sanctioned beatings, forced sterilization, "female castration" (ritual or punitive genital mutilations of various kinds), and a range of other examples of psychological and institutional brutality.

More recently, Ron and I have been involved in book projects taking a close look at the brutality against women (as well as child abuse and human and organ trafficking) in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Much of the abuse and brutality take place under Sharia law and/or the Taliban, though there are various tribal influences at work too. I have written about this before, and so has Ron. We are acutely aware of the atrocious crimes that have been and continue to be committed against women (and children and men) in these countries and cultures, sometimes in the name of religion or "honor," sometimes not.
 
And speaking of "Where's the outrage?"...
an editorial in the (UK) Independent recently asked the very logical question: Why are those who are so strongly condemning Muslim men silent on RooshV -- and for that matter, on the global oppression of women?

Why indeed?

My point, in case it isn't painfully clear after my belaboring, is that the outrage about rape culture in the Middle East (or India, or Africa) is far from dead, and those on the right who pretend to be looking for that outrage in the left are ignorant, either willfully or otherwise. The indignation regarding the abuse of women and children in Muslim or Hindu or other non-Christian cultures is still very much alive and well amongst the left and the feminists and the "libtards" and everyone else whom the right so loves to vilify.

But sometimes, compassion for displaced families and frightened children is stronger than the outrage about the heritage of brutality from which they are trying so desperately to escape.

Calling out rape without resorting to xenophobia
As 2016 began there was a great deal of hoopla about mass attacks on women, supposedly by mostly Muslim immigrants, in Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve. Naturally the right-wing/hate "alternative" media jumped on this story big-time, but some of the more staid mainstream media did too. And that leads me to another point: We DO have to acknowledge rape and sexual exploitation when and where they occur,
as the (male Muslim) writer of this article warns -- and yet we must do so in a way that doesn't feed into racism and xenophobia, and doesn't give right wing bigots more ammo.

That is a pretty tall order in today's divisive, polarized social and political climate.

I acknowledge that prior to reading the Daily Beast piece linked to above, I had not given much serious attention on my posts to the troubles in Germany, as well as in various Scandinavian countries. And a large part of this was because of my own distrust of most of the coverage I had seen thus far of the incidents of alleged "immigrant rape epidemics." Pretty much all of the stories until recently were on right wing hate sites; I never could seem to find any real journalistic coverage. On various Facebook threads, as well as on this blog, I had been making fun of Leonard Coldwell because he had been absolutely obsessed with the issue, couching all of his posts about Europe's "immigrant rape problem" in his own toxic racist, Muslim-hating, Islamophobic rhetoric. Worse, he pretended to be speaking as some sort of protector or champion of women when there are ample
indications that he is actually an exploitative misogynist. So... Pot and kettle.

That said, it is a mistake to ignore or gloss over real incidents of rape and assault, and even more of a mistake
to once again blame the victims or to in any way suggest that the onus is on the victims and on all women to conduct themselves "properly" -- rather than on the male offenders NOT TO RAPE, no matter what their ethnicity or cultural background.

Though it may seem that I am making a circular argument I feel obligated to emphasize that my mention of, and desire to get to the truth about, the assaults in Germany, Sweden and other European countries -- assaults that are alleged to have been perpetrated by gangs of Muslim immigrants -- do not mean that I am dismissing the anti-feminist/rape-culture heritage in the United States. As I noted above I am very well aware of that, have been aware of it for decades, and have plenty of outrage to go around. Nor does this post mean that I am in any way implicating all Muslims or all immigrants. I simply think we have to take a brutally honest look at the problem of sexual exploitation everywhere and in every form. And as the New Years Eve attacks in Germany have actually been covered in the more respectable news media, I am assuming they are not simply a fabrication of the Loony Coldwells and Alex Joneses and Breitbarts and Pamela Gellers on the Internet.

As well, there appears to have been some initial efforts by German officials to cover up some of the news about the attacks. There have been credible (in my opinion) reports that
officials in Sweden have also been "covering up." That is why this whole issue merits much closer scrutiny by sane, compassionate people everywhere. But that scrutiny should always be guided by a quest for the truth. As reported by the Independent on 19 February 2016, law enforcement records indicate that the problem of sex crimes by immigrants in Europe has been exaggerated by the far right. The New Years Eve attacks appear to be an aberration.

The time period analysed does not include the assaults on New Year’s Eve, which are the subject of an ongoing investigation. Police have received reports of 433 reports of sexual attacks on that night in Cologne alone.

The vast majority of suspects in that case come from Algeria and Morocco and police statistics indicate that North African migrants are more likely to commit crimes than those from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, where the
majority of refugees arriving in Germany originate.

A summary of the Bundeskriminalamt’s report released to the Independent showed that 82 per cent of offences by immigrants were non-violent, mostly theft, counterfeiting and travelling on public transport without a ticket.

In 28 recorded killings, only one of the victims was German and most incidents were between people of the same nationality.
Then there are the awful reports of German security personnel raping female refugees. Coldwell et al. don't seem to mention that.

Meanwhile, other violent crimes against immigrants, and those who would help them, seem to be quite fierce. The (apparent arson) incident reported in the linked article took place in Saxony, home to the anti-immigration group Pegida -- which is an acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (not to be confused with Pegada, Patriotic Europeans Against the Americanization of Europe, a group that Lenny Coldwell "liked" on his German Facebook page).

Apparently uninterested in any desire for a balanced perspective, Loony Lenny posted this on February 21, 2016:



And
here's the (Google-translated) link he shared, apparently from another right-wing hate site.

In other words... consider the source.

What isn't and is helpful

What is emphatically not helpful, when addressing the problem of rape culture -- or sexual predation if you will -- in any of its forms, is the type of hateful screed posted by Leonard Coldwell and his ilk. His brand of toxicity is equally unhelpful and equally harmful when battling xenophobia or racism. Despite
getting suspended from Facebook for 30 days after being reported (albeit not by me) for hate speech, Coldwell continues to post links to screeds from right-wing hate sites to prove his point that "they" (mostly Muslims) are invading "us" and that Europe and soon America will be a hotbed of "rape, rape, rape." You can almost see him salivating at the prospect. Meanwhile, Roosh continues to whine that he's being oppressed, and his followers as well as other MRAs (men's rights activists) continue to look upon women, or at least feminist women, as the enemy.

While continuing to verbally beat up on Muslims, Coldwell hasn't let up on one of his other favorite targets, the Jews, judging by his continued participation in the loathsome sport of Holocaust denial. But unfortunately Lenny is not just an isolated little hater-man. The current front-runner in the US presidential race, Donald Trump (whom Coldwell, not surprisingly, strongly supports), shamelessly panders to the thin but powerfully persistent thread of American xenophobia -- a thread that, unfortunately, is as tightly woven into our history and culture as are the finest ideals on which this land of opportunity/melting pot was founded. We've even had several presidents whose campaigns drew upon the xenophobic trend du jour.

Certainly, reasonable people can argue over the finer points of immigration policy reform in America (I personally think that the fact that
undesirables like Coldwell can apparently buy their way to citizenship speaks to a need for reform) -- but we have to do so without the taint of xenophobia and racism. But Trump and his cheering throngs clearly have no interest at all in discussing the fine points. They're perfectly happy to promote their xenophobia and dress it up as "making America great again."
 
And it's not just the Islamophobe contingent that has been galvanized by Trump. Although he has made lame attempts to separate himself from the white supremacist/white nationalist community (this piece is from August 2015), it seems clear that some white-sup forces, such as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, are rallying behind Trump because, in Duke's words, "He's meant a lot for the human rights of European-Americans." White-sup website Stormfront is also on the Trump bandwagon. [Note added on February 28 and updated on March 6: Although in August 2015 Trump (sort of) vowed to repudiate any future endorsement by David Duke et al., he flip-flopped six months later. And he has continued to waffle and make excuses, rendering this little drama more and more bizarre, and making it ever more difficult for his supporters who aren't foaming-at-the-mouth bigots to rationalize for him.]

And although Trump insists that he's no misogynist and that women in his organizations are treated like equals (and, in fairness, some of the women who have worked for him have said the same), it seems pretty clear that his overall attitude towards women is pretty contemptuous, and in many respects no more enlightened than that of Loony Coldwell or Roosh V. The second link in the previous sentence mainly concerns the stupid things that Trump has said on the equally sexist shock-jock Howard Stern's radio show, but here's one of many articles about his mouthing off on other forums.
 
On both the rape-culture and xenophobia/racism fronts, we've come a long way in some respects, but clearly have a long way to go. Even as I sometimes fear that critical, anti-scam blogs and forums have helped to build a stronger scammer, I also fear that the "second wave" of feminism that began as the first baby boomers were coming of age has, over the decades, helped to build a fiercer breed of misogynist. The
"third wave" -- which is propelled in large part by the new generation of young, scary-smart women who are encroaching on male territory like never before -- is unwittingly creating even more fear and hatred. And sometimes it seems that the more we fight xenophobia and racism, the more powerful these forces become as well.
 
But this is no reason to ease up on either the scammer or the misogynist or the xenophobe or the racist, and certainly not on the misogynistic, xenophobic, racist scammer.
Especially if he's running for president of the United States.
 
At the same time, we also have to guide the conversation in ways that will be helpful rather than merely incendiary. First I think it's important not to overstate rape culture, not to automatically see rape (or rape advocacy), predation or misogyny where it may not in fact exist. Otherwise we risk, at worst, falsely accusing people of egregious offenses, which can not only ruin the lives of the accused but can also make it more difficult for real victims to pursue their cases. In many instances we may also need to give the benefit of the doubt, rather than point fingers, when someone makes a questionable statement that might appear to be sexist or supportive of rape culture, when in reality the person may not have intended this at all. The same goes for xenophobia and racism. These forces certainly exist and they surface in ugly and sometimes surprising ways, but not everyone who makes a verbal slip should be cast out with the enemy.

Overall we have to create a safer space for public conversation about these sensitive matters: a place that does not feel like a minefield for those who aren't crass misogynists or xenophobes or racists but who may disagree with us or simply question our viewpoints. We have to acknowledge, for instance -- without dismissing the real and ongoing problem of misogyny and its roots in patriarchal culture -- that
misandry exists too and that sometimes women do pretty awful things to men. Sometimes their acts of physical violence against men are in fact the end result of their being the target of long-term abuse, but some women (like some men) are just bat-crap crazy. We also have to acknowledge that sometimes racism exists on the "other" side, even though it is very often simply an understandable response to a life of being the target of racism.

But if we don't acknowledge the nuances and allow the expression of diverse perspectives, we not only risk inhibiting honest conversation about complex issues -- thus becoming thought-police or hypocrites who support our own free speech but not that of others -- but we also provide fuel for the haters' hero/martyr narratives.

And I don't know about you, but that is not at all what I want to do.

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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Kevin Trudeau's Birthday Present: He Gets to Stay in Prison


Since it's still February 6 on my part of the planet I want to take this opportunity to give a big Happy Birthday shout-out to one of this blog's favorite serial scammers, infomercial huckster Kevin Trudeau. He turned 53 today and is currently languishing in "Camp Cupcake," which is his fond nickname for the blissful retreat where he's now confined and serving a ten-year sentence for criminal contempt. Its real-world name is Federal Prison Camp (FPC) Montgomery, Alabama. 

And now, thanks to a recent decision by an appellate court, he gets to stay right where he is.

The decision [U.S. v. Trudeau, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-1869] was actually handed down on February 5, so I guess it could be considered to be an early birthday present. Here's a link to the decision. It gives some good background and context on this long, drawn-out case.

But here's even more -- and better -- context from a former GIN member and my good friend and blogging colleague, Bernie O'Mahony at GINtruth. I'll have much more to say about this soon but I'm kind of on the run right now (no, not on the run from the law -- it's just that I have real-life things to do, and Ron is just about to put supper on the table).

So enjoy Bernie's take on things, and I'll see you back here soon. Maybe even as early as tomorrow.

PS: If you want more insider views from a former Trudeau fan and former member of Trudeau's biggest scam of all, the Global Information Network (GIN), read my friend John Foster's book


Addendum, February 11, 2016
It took a few days, but Katie and/or his proxy finally spoke up on his Facebook fan page regarding the failed appeal. In case you can't get to that link, here's the complete text of his post, which was published on February 10, 2016 and has more than 200 "likes" at the time I'm writing this, as well as scads of gushing comments from devotees the world over, who insist that Katie is their hero.
As you all know, I am being held in a US Federal Prison Camp for "contempt of court". This is not a felony and not even a misdemeanor. I was charged with "contempt" by a single judge. As part of the "punishment", the US government has confiscated all of my personal, business and family money and assets worldwide. They took all the money and assets of other family members as well. They even confiscated all current and future "income", forbidding me to earn any money for the rest of my life, as all money I earn forever must go to the government.

In addition, I was given the longest contempt of court prison sentence in US history: 10 years. I appealed both the conviction and sentence. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled against my appeal. This has shocked every legal scholar I talked with.

That means I will be serving approximately 7 more years before I will be released. I will be appealing this decision to the US Supreme Court. The costs of the US Supreme Court appeal are huge. A "good" lawyer can charge over $300,000 for this case. I need your help to get a lawyer to file and argue my appeal to the US Supreme Court. I need to get the funds to pay for the legal bills. There are still outstanding legal bills that also need to be paid.

If you can give some financial assistance for my lawyers the time is now to do so. Please go to
KTLegalDefene.com and make a contribution of any amount. All proceeds go to my Attorneys. If you can help financially please do so today. Please tell others to help as well. Remember also, if you want the Nuggets of Gold monthly Newsletter and The Science of Personal Mastery Course that comes with the newsletter each month, you can get that as a gift for a contribution of just $19.95 per month or a one time annual contribution of $210 is also available. I sincerely appreciate your help.
As for me, I am taking the surprising news as simply news. There is no good or bad news. There is only news. YOU make it good or bad with your thinking. Most people would feel depressed, sad, or shocked. Many would have anxiety attacks, cry, or feel overwhelmed with fear. I know, however, that this news is good, because I can choose it to be good with my thinking.

First, I can give you many rational logical reasons why this is good. I get another 7 years of rest, relaxation and the opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh by body, and mind. I have the unique perfect stress free environment to read, study, meditate, exercise, do yoga, learn German and most importantly write the best training materials I have ever put together. This is the perfect opportunity for me to master my own ability to control, still, and quiet my mind, and burn off all my remaining "karma".

I actually sat down and made a list of all the wonderful benefits that I am thankful, grateful, and appreciate for that I will receive by staying here for another 7 years. The list was many pages long! Doing the list was fun and made me feel wonderful! When you focus on all the things you are thankful, grateful and appreciative for, you feel great! Then, I meditated on the fact that the best things I will personally gain from this adventure are off my radar screen. I do not even know what the best things that are coming to me from this news are yet. I cannot even image them yet. But I KNOW that there are so many amazing wonderful glorious things off the radar screen that ARE coming to me because of me losing this appeal!

When you think about that fact, you feel even better! You know you have been given a priceless gift! You can always overcome any adversity in your life. You can always feel good no matter what the conditions and circumstances in your life. I am teaching all this in The Science of Personal Mastery Course that you get free when you contribute to the
KTLegalDefense.com This is the perfect time to contribute (as I need the help right now!) and the perfect time for you to get the Newsletter and Course. The Course comes to you each month. Each month you get the current Newsletter and a Lesson in the Course. Everyone starts with Lesson 1. The Course came out last year. Students who started right at the beginning are doing Lesson 13 now. They are enjoying it immensely…

Go to
KTLegalDefense.com and contribute now. I need the financial help for the legal Team… Thank you all for you love and support. Come back here often for more updates. The adventure continues!
Yup. Katie has been pooping out those golden nuggets for more than a year now. It's all for a good cause, of course, apart from your personal growth, and that cause is springing Katie from the clink and liberating him from his big "adventure."


One fan wrote, in response to the above:

Mr Trudeau I thank you for the sacrifice you have made and are still making. The fact that you have been incarcerated for contempt of court longer than anyone in the history of the United States judicial systems bears witness to the truth of your writings and your workshops. Your sacrifice have brought out the arrogance of this government. And no matter what you will come out on top.
But the thing is, "Mr. Trudeau" is fibbing about his sentence being the longest one ever for contempt of court. An easy Google search revealed this 2009 ABC news bit about a 73-year-old Philadelphia lawyer who served 14 years for contempt. And here's a 2011 article about a guy in Illinois who got a 20-year contempt sentence. His lawyers even mentioned that sentence in the appeals argument, so you can't say that Trudeau is speaking from ignorance. He is flat-out lying to make people feel sorry for him and inspire them to give money to his cause. (What else is new?)

It makes me sad to see so many people still buying into Kevin Trudeau's hero/martyr story. One person, also responding to the above-quoted Facebook post, wrote, "I am deaf and live in London. You are my hero. Now I am going to transfer $19.95 per month." Later the same individual wrote, "I did it [smiley face icon]/ KT legal team, please let me know that my PayPal pays for KT from today..." Someone else wrote, "You're innocent. It's 1984. Thought crime is the only thing you did." Another person wrote, "OmGod how aweful [sic] of these people! I will pray, they must release u and ur finances in Jesus name!! Amen!"

Still another fan wrote:
Don't you think it's actually the "Brotherhood" (as he calls them), or what Peter Dale Scott calls "deep government", which has decided to punish KT for revealing their secrets? And/or the pharmaceutical industry getting back at him for exposing their corruption, along with the FDA by the way, in KT's 2004 bestseller "Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About?" And that therefore, as long as these crooks are holding the real power, behind the scenes, they won't be letting him out? Sorry for these thoughts, I think the Law of Attraction doesn't dispense us from being lucid and clear-minded about what's really going on, otherwise we can waste a lot of energy trying to solve things legally, when in fact, the issue has nothing to do with legality, in a country (the US) that's really turned into a banana republic, a dictatorship of the worst kind? Whatever the case, may the best come out of it!

And another deluded soul wrote:


K.T I'll say this again you are a saint and an angel. Seems like the closer one is to the truth that is love and light, the longer the sentence in jail. But I know jail is your ultimate freedom. Gods ready for you to evolve even further and now go within yourself to access that inner bliss and paradise that we know as god. You are infact the most luckiest and blessed being in the universe. I'd give anything to be in your shoes right now. You gave certainly achieved self mastery and ultimate bliss and enlightenment. Clever lucky and wise kevin trudeau. You are a true genius in every sense of the word. God is hugely immensely pleased upon you that's why you are infact protected in jail so you can have the ultimate freedom. You earned yourself to enlightenment! You lucky prodigy! Much love to you k.t!!

I'm sure Katie would gladly trade places with that person who would "give anything" to be in Katie's prison-issue footwear right now, but that's not the way the justice system works. Anyway, the kissing-up goes on and on and on like that. I'm not allowed to participate in the conversation on that page, but I'm not sure I would at this point. Trying to argue someone out of their devotion to phony heroes -- not to mention their fondness for conspiracy theories -- is pretty much a waste of energy.

Context is everything

As I've said numerous times on this blog and other forums, reasonable people can disagree over the justice, or lack thereof, of Katie's prison sentence. Most (though not all) of the disillusioned ex-GIN members I've heard from, and pretty much all of the critical bloggers I know, say he is right where he belongs, but I've taken the rather unpopular position that the sentence was a bit too harsh since he is a nonviolent offender. (Yet of course there is the question of how he could legally be kept from playing full-on in Scamworld if he weren't locked up. After all, he's still scamming, though marginally less effectively, from behind bars.) Reasonable people can also disagree over the legal issues surrounding civil and criminal contempt, and the fairness or unfairness of the fact that judges can pretty much jail people indefinitely for these offenses.
 
As is the case with most controversial figures or issues, people on both sides who have passionate feelings have a tendency to oversimplify and overlook nuances. The anti-Katie contingent, particularly those who lost money or felt they were screwed by Trudeau in some other way, may be less apt to consider the nuanced legal and ethical issues about contempt, for example, and most seem glad that he is in prison. The pro-Katie contingent, on the other hand, seem inclined to buy his dramatic tale that he was jailed for being a whistleblower, and that the government prosecutors cooked up a big phony case against him because he was threatening the establishment or Big Pharma or the food industry or the medical profession or the New World Order or what have you. Some Katie fans continue to insist that he was jailed merely for writing a book and/or for expressing his opinion that the diet described in that book is easy.

But context matters: legal, historical and ethical/moral context. And it appears to me that the pro-Katies are less willing to consider context than the anti-Katies.

Consider the legal context. Though I am no lawyer, I have been following Trudeau's civil and criminal cases pretty closely for years and have downloaded and read many hundreds of pages of legal documents pertaining to the cases. It appears to me that from a legal standpoint the government had a solid case against Trudeau. Historical context is important as well, and in those court documents the prosecutors carefully outlined Trudeau's history of pulling scams. For those who don't want to go back and pour through thousands of pages of legal docs (I don't blame you), a good capsule summary of the legal cases was provided in
Aaron Gell's fine piece about Trudeau, published by Business Insider in January 2015. (Here's my post about Gell's article, if you haven't already read it and have some time to waste.) And if you would like to read the document that explains the reason for the denial of Trudeau's appeal, here again is a direct link.

Moral context is important too. And once again I'll cite
Bernie's recent GINtruth post, as it has a good summary of the ways that people were hurt by Trudeau's scams. Although Trudeau was not tried, convicted or sentenced for his huge Global Information Network (GIN) scam, I have little doubt that that scam played a part in the prosecution's case and helped form a basis for the ultimate court decision.

Salty Droid understands the context too, perhaps much better than many, and explained it in a 2014 blog post (and yes, I know I've cited this before, but it belongs here as well):
It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the total revenues from Trudeau’s life of scamjobery had topped a billion dollars. This book :: that book … whatever … the books don’t matter. It’s about cartels of badguys buying {preselected for sadness} people in bulk from media/info companies :: and then trading those people around until they become empty vessels … robbed of their money … and often of their sense of self.
The media :: the government :: and the courts … will all tell you a different story though. A much less complicated story :: disconnected from the hard problems of reality …
“He is a habitual liar and a fraudster,” Assistant U.S. Attorney April Perry said.
As a result of the size of the fraud and Trudeau’s two previous felony convictions, federal sentencing guidelines called for 20 to 25 years in prison, a range that Guzman said he thought was “appropriate.” However, he eventually agreed with prosecutors who said a 10-year term was sufficient since — unlike in many fraud cases — no one who bought Trudeau’s book was financially ruined.
Just a little bit :: totally …wrong.

And if the opinions stated on the appellate decision are any indication, it seems that some judges "get it" as well:
Based on the size of Trudeau's fraud and the flagrant and repetitive nature of his contumacious conduct, the ten-year sentence -- about half the bottom of the guidelines -- was not unreasonable.

So, really, Katie fans: it's not just about a damn diet book.


Legal, schmegal: the house that Troy built
On a recent Facebook discussion my friend Kenneth
pointed out something of which I'd not previously been aware. The domain for the KT Legal Defense Fund does not belong, as one might expect, to Katie's lawyers at Winston & Strawn LLP. Rather it is owned by Troy McClain, current head of GIN and owner of the AXS Investment Group that bought GIN. You've met Troy on this Whirled a few times, such as this post, written in 2014 when the GIN sale was still pending.

Now, I'm not saying that all moneys contributed to the Legal Defense Fund will go into Troy's pockets. But I will point out that
the terms disclaimer on the KT Legal Defense Fund page says that all contributions are nonrefundable and will go towards Katie's "management and legal fees" -- and I can't help but notice that "management" gets top billing here. It seems to me that in theory, Troy could justify taking any amount of the pot because he is performing "management." The physical address for sending payments does direct to Winston & Strawn, so old-school types who want to send a check can probably be assured that the lawyers will get their contribution. But for those who opt for the convenience of online contributions, recurring or not...um... I'm not so sure.

Moreover, as I may have mentioned before, GINsiders have told me that Troy really doesn't like Katie all that much and never did (which indicates to me that Troy is both a hypocrite and an ingrate, since Katie gave him so much free exposure back in the day), and that Troy has been making noise about shuttering the Illinois office entirely and moving the whole shebang to Troy's home state of Idaho. And in light of the fact that it looks like Katie may indeed be imprisoned for the duration, this seems more likely to happen. Given the whole no-honor-among-thieves phenomenon, I wouldn't be surprised by anything Troy does.

But no matter how long Katie is left to languish at Camp Cupcake, and no matter if Troy (and Katie's other former GIN cronies) desert him altogether and head for the hills with their own scams, leaving him twisting in the wind, Katie still has a fiercely devoted fan base who continue to insist that he is a hero, wrongfully imprisoned. For years his ego has been propped up by people who were willing to accept his story of being
a martyr fighting for the First Amendment. And in 2012 the Koch-funded Libertarian think tank the Cato Institute even tried to take his cause to the Supreme Court, filing this amicus brief, which in the words of Salty Droid, supported "Kevin Trudeau's right to do whatever Kevin Trudeau's heart-of-a-car-salesman-lion-champion-patriot tells him to do..." (The efforts, as reported on this very Whirled, were ultimately unsuccessful.) 

On the arguably less intelligent front we have the fans who, rather than filing amicus briefs on behalf of their hero, write bad poetry about him or, even worse, produce appallingly bad videos.

So the songs and videos will continue to be made, and the people will continue to believe and spread Kevin Trudeau's narrative about being the put-upon hero, and new scams will be built upon old scams, and there will be no neat and tidy endings. Though the extent to which he'll be able to capitalize on adulation is debatable, I think it's safe to say that Kevin will, at the very least, always find people who are willing to believe him and make naively indignant proclamations about his unjust suffering. As I said in the context of writing about one of the loathsome scammers that Trudeau unleashed, first through his Natural Cures scampire and then through GIN, "the facts don't matter if the story is good." That really comes as no surprise to me.

Nor is it surprising that Trudeau is bound and determined to take his case to the highest court in the land, and to spend hundreds of thousands more of your dollars in order to do so. At the same time he pleas for your help in getting out, he continues to express gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon him in Camp Cupcake, as if this were the best thing ever to happen to him. He's using his down time to burn off the rest of his karma, after all, and is apparently using the fire from that karma-burning to cook up more scams. (And to learn German. Interesting choice of languages, but I digress.) So my advice is to keep your money, or send it to me if it's burning a hole in your pocket.


The bottom line is that whether you believe he deserves ten years in a relatively privileged prison camp, or a harsher sentence, or no prison time at all, Kevin Trudeau does not deserve your tears or your cash. As my pal Tim wrote, "Remember when kt felt bad for all the people in GIN who lost huge sums of money and did something to help them out? Yeah, neither do I."

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