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Is A Voice for Men using phony death threats as an excuse to smear feminists and raise a quick $25k? Here’s what we DON’T know so far. [UPDATE: Hotel still not talking]

Adjusted for inflation, those 5 cent fears are now worth $25,000
Adjusted for inflation, those 5 cent fears are now worth $25,000

Is A Voice for Men using phony “death threats” allegedly directed at those planning to attend its upcoming “Men’s Issues” conference in Detroit, as well as upon employees and guests of the hotel where it’s scheduled to be held, as an excuse to smear feminists and raise a quick $25,000 in donations from readers and possibly even from a handful of gullible feminists?

As incredible as that sounds, that’s what some people I respect are saying. Despite AVFM’s history of lying about alleged feminist threats – you may recall John Hembling’s infamous confrontation with an imaginary mob of 20-30 feminists brandishing boxcutters – I’m not willing to go that far.

But there’s a lot about the story that makes no sense, and some big questions that need convincing answers.

1) The Doubletree Fort Shelby hotel has not confirmed that the letter Paul Elam posted on his site several days ago, and which he has now removed, actually came from them. The letter is, so far, the only evidence that there were any threats.

Hotel management needs to confirm whether or not they sent this letter to Elam.

2) Both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press spoke to Detroit Police spokesman Adam Madera, who told them that the police had not received any reports of death threats from the hotel. He told both papers that hotel staff had asked about hiring off-duty officers for security but hadn’t specified why.

Hotel management needs to confirm either that 1) they got death threats and didn’t report them or 2) that they got no such threats. They should also confirm whether their calls about off-duty police officers were related to the “Men’s Issues” conference.

There are a few other clues that support the “hoax” theory, though they’re far from definitive:

Several people who have allegedly contacted the hotel to ask about the threat say that the managers they spoke to knew nothing about the threats. Even if these reports are true, this may not be significant; managers may not have been told about threats related to a conference many weeks off.

The Detroit News also spoke to the owner of the hotel, and he said he was unaware of any threats. That may not be significant either; he may simply be out of the loop.

Essentially, we’re waiting for the Doubletree Fort Shelby management to answer these questions. If you look at the news coverage so far you’ll notice that the hotel staffers who can answer these questions don’t seem to be answering their phones or returning calls. I left a message for them today as well. No reply yet.

The other bits of evidence we’re waiting for? Well, the letter Elam claims he got from hotel management says that he and the other conference organizers need to send the hotel proof that they’ve hired the required number of Detroit police officers to handle security, as well as proof that they have also paid for at least $2 million in liability insurance. They have to have this done by the 6th.

In light of all the questions still swirling around, I think people are going to want to see this proof too.

It may be that the hotel comes forward and confirms that the letter was real, that the threats were real, and that indeed A Voice for Men does have to shell out $25,000 for extra security. It may even be the case that it was a feminist or a group of feminists making the threats. But we don’t know. And right now the people who do know are either not talking — or they have pretty much no credibility. Let’s hope the silence ends soon, because there’s no way the not-so-good folks at AVFM are suddenly going to turn credible overnight.

EDIT: I toned down some of the language, which I think was detracting from my main points, and added a new final paragraph.

EDIT 2:  Removed some speculation. We’ll know some of the answers soon enough; no need to speculate.

UPDATE: DOUBLETREE STATEMENT

So I’ve heard back from Atiya Frederick, the PR Manager for Embassy Suites Hotels & DoubleTree, and she’s made clear that the hotel won’t be answering specific questions about any of this just yet. Here’s what she sent me.

At this time we are confining our comments on this matter to the below statement …

Hilton Worldwide strives to operate meeting places for people from all walks of life, regardless of beliefs, race, color, national origin, religion or sexual orientation. The views of our guests do not reflect the sentiment of Hilton Worldwide. As places of public accommodation, our hotels do not discriminate against any individual or group. Our goal is to provide quality accommodations and a pleasant environment for our guests, employees and members of our community . We would like to emphasize that we strive to be an inclusive company and regret if this policy has unintentionally offended any individual or organization. 

This statement seems to be their standard response when they host a conference by a controversial group.

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cloudiah
7 years ago

Good summary of the situation. I am the first to admit I have no idea what is really going on here, but not trusting AVfM seems like a pretty safe bet given their track record.

Shiraz
Shiraz
7 years ago

Answers? Um, they’re full of shit, maybe?

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

the letter Elam claims he got from hotel management says that he and the other conference organizers need to send the hotel proof that they’ve hired the required number of Detroit police officers to handle security, as well as proof that they have also paid for at least $2 million in liability insurance. They have to have this done by the 6th.

So the hotel needs the proof of the hiring and insurance by the 6th, so AVfM needs to have written evidence of the insurance and police officer statuses by that date so they can ?fax ?email it to the hotel.

Will AVfM be posting the two pieces of evidence as well:
– the insurance coverage agreement
– the written confirmation from the business arm of the Detroit PD re the number of officers hired and the cost?

pecunium
7 years ago

I find it interesting that the fundraiser, for money due on 6 June, is open for 30 days; i.e. well past the point at which they need to have spent the money.

zoon echon logon
zoon echon logon
7 years ago

Why is mustache Jon Stewart selling fear?

Ally S
7 years ago

I find it interesting that the fundraiser, for money due on 6 June, is open for 30 days; i.e. well past the point at which they need to have spent the money.

Well, what can I say? Elam needs a few more sports cars in order to embark on his mission to save men and boys.

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
7 years ago

If Elam or an associate of his did fake threats against their conference, that will be really rich. I remember Elam talking about the threats Rebecca Watson received, accusing her of being an “attention whore” and bragging about how he received death threats AL THE TIME but doesn’t publicize them because he’s not a Damsel in Distress like those inferior femails. Fake or not, I think this whole scenario puts the lie to that latter claim.

mmhm
mmhm
7 years ago

This is almost assuredly a scam. It’s been demonstrated time and again that Paul Elam is a fraud and liar as well as a vicious bigot. The fact that his followers don’t grasp that he’s constantly fleecing them is pathetic. I almost feel sorry for the rubes…but I feel sorrier for the women and men they attack.

I see this as another instance of the far right elite exploiting their own followers in order to make a quick buck. Other examples include Glenn Beck, the vast majority of rightwing media, and the Tea Party. What they all have in common besides hateful ideas is a pathological inability to care about other people, even people who consider them allies and leaders.

House Mouse Queen
7 years ago

Anyone know a contact at Google? John Hembling just false DMCA’d one of my vids to try and get my docs. Contact me through email or tell David and he’ll contact me.

Melissia
7 years ago

I know this is unethical of them, but I wonder if it’s illegal, too?

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

Thanks for that link pecunium. Isn’t the fundraiser against FundAnything’s ToR, see 4d in http://support.fundanything.com/customer/portal/articles/1081666-terms-of-use
?

serrana
serrana
7 years ago

I think Paul’s rent is going up. They didn’t sell enough tickets, so he’s scrambling to raise as much money as he can and then he’s going to cancel at the last minute for some bullshit reason. Then he’ll claim he needed the 25K anyway for a new server or something

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

Well, I complained to the Fund Anything site about the campaign and linked to a couple of recent AVfM posts as evidence.

katz
7 years ago

I find it interesting that the fundraiser, for money due on 6 June, is open for 30 days; i.e. well past the point at which they need to have spent the money.

While suspicious, he might be planning to pay for the expenses out of pocket and then raise money to reimburse himself. That would be reasonable if he thought he didn’t have enough time to fundraise before the deadline.

Or, splitting the sketchiness difference, he might have just figured that, while he was fundraising anyway, he might as well leave it running and see how much extra he could make on top of the actual costs.

marinerachel
marinerachel
7 years ago

Paul’s a kept man so, unless he’s trying to move up in the world, beyond what his sugar momma can provide, he doesn’t need help paying his living costs. What could he be spending it on?

pecunium
7 years ago

katz: I admit to not pointing out there is no way a crowdsourcing site is going to be able to pay the money in time to meet the surety deadline.

We had to have 2 million in general liability insurance for the wedding: cost us less than $200, because we used the rider from our homeowners insurance. So that aspect of it is much more trivial than it looks.

The cost for the cops would be in the 20-30,000 range: If we say 3 shifts, times 7 cops, times 3 days get

3*7*3 =504 man hours. Assuming it’s billed at $50 an hour we get 25,200 which is in keeping with the pitch they are making.

So it’s possible (at the more generous end of duplicity) they got dinged for the cost of extra security: based on the nature of the group, combined with recent events, and rather than make a simple plea for cash, the came up with the ridiculous story of sleeper cells, willing to spend a moderate amount of money (trip to Detroit, room nights; in addition to the risk of arrest) to drum up cash. It’s not too much of a stretch, given the credulous nature of the MRM to assume they expected to be able to bilk them with this story.

Because it’s a winner. If they do get a protest, they are vindicated. If they don’t,they are also vindicated; because the presence of the police was needed to protect the MRM from the Evil Feminists.

katz
7 years ago

(I certainly think it’s very likely a scam and the fundraising deadline doesn’t help the plausibility any; it’s just not the sketchiest thing about the whole affair.)

Delphi Ote
Delphi Ote
7 years ago

If they were going to make up the death threat letter, why not call in actual death threats? That’s their style anyway, and it would lend credibility to the whole enterprise. Getting management to vouch for the death threats should be easy, even if this is a scam.

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

I wonder if the conference should address the serious issue of how the US per capita consumption of margarine is highly correlated with the divorce rate in Maine:
http://www.tylervigen.com/view_correlation?id=1703

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
7 years ago

Are trans fats misandry? Enquiring minds want to know.

Anenome
Anenome
7 years ago

It is very likely that Hilton have a policy relating to threats. It would be out of the hands of the GM, an area manager would be the lowest level to make a decision.

It is almost unbelievable that Hilton would not report threats to the police as a matter of policy.

Find and contact the area manager and she/he could fill in the blanks.

titianblue
titianblue
7 years ago

Oooh, we’re going to get answers soon? I’m on the edge of my (hard misandric) seat!

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

Dean Essay is claiming Paul Nathanson has received death threats in the comments of the Raw Story article.

Don’t they have to back this shit up or at least report it to the police at some point?

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

Damn autocorrect.

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

Emma is holding up fine. She thanks y’all for your concern.

banshee
banshee
7 years ago

mmhm, enough with the gratuitous political potshots. People who bash Tea Partiers don’t know any. None of this was about politics til you went off on your little rant.
Okay.
On topic, I understand the insurance requirement, but not its suddenness. Also I don’t buy that they need to specifically hire Detroit cops instead of private security, which might be a lot cheaper, given what security guards are paid.
But hey, he chose Detroit. I don’t think there are serious,death threats – at least, that’s just my feeling. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

takshak
takshak
7 years ago

When I was involved in fendom, we didn’t have to get extra security, so I have no insight there, but it sounds pretty fishy. IMHO, think at this point the best thing to do is open book and order popcorn. I’ll take “not enough attendees to cover the costs” at 3:2, and extra butter.

There will be no report to the police. False reporting is a felony

marinerachel
marinerachel
7 years ago

Very pleased to hear Emma is doing well.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

People who bash Tea Partiers don’t know any.

WRONG!

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

People who bash Tea Partiers don’t know any.

Double-wrong!

It’s almost like an assertion from ignorance is… ignorant.

tealily
tealily
7 years ago

It’s probably the only way he can squeeze money out of that group. I wonder how many didn’t want to pay money for something like that and got suckered into giving to “the cause”.

And they claim women are hysterical.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

I live in Rand Paul territory.

Don’t ever tell me to be nice about Glibertarian Baggers who would allow my bodily autonomy or my friends’ right to marry to be a “state’s rights issue”. They’re sexism/racism denialists, gun fondlers and anti-environmental regulations that protect the water I drink and the air I breathe.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

@Lea

I _was_ a Tea Party Repub.

🙁

I feel as though I have won the world’s worst contest.

But on the other hand I don’t even have to pretend to listen to trolls telling me how ignorant I am about what teaparty republicans really think.

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
7 years ago

Glibertarian Baggers who would allow my bodily autonomy or my friends’ right to marry to be a “state’s rights issue”. They’re sexism/racism denialists, gun fondlers and anti-environmental regulations that protect the water I drink and the air I breathe.

That sums up a lot of my very red area’s residents pretty nicely. Also explains why agnostic/liberal/feminist me is very careful when she tries to make new friends IRL.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

Howard,
It happens. My past is riddled with good intentions and poor choices.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Right wingers are always subject to mockery as far as I’m concerned. The Republican party platform is built on misogyny, racism and sexism.

I used to think that I could disagree respectfully about fiscal issues, but that’s getting harder. There’s so much cruelty inherent in bootstraps rhetoric. And it circles right back around to sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism. It’s a shit ton easier to pull your bootstraps up if you’re privileged.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
7 years ago

I used to think that I could disagree respectfully about fiscal issues, but that’s getting harder. There’s so much cruelty inherent in bootstraps rhetoric. And it circles right back around to sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism.

Yes, this. There’s no “just politics” in America right now. The fundamental party divide is “are certain groups of people fully human or not”, and I don’t feel like agreeing to disagree on that one.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

Yes, this. There’s no “just politics” in America right now. The fundamental party divide is “are certain groups of people fully human or not”, and I don’t feel like agreeing to disagree on that one.

^THIS

Marie
Marie
7 years ago

@Weirdwoodtreehugger

I used to think that I could disagree respectfully about fiscal issues, but that’s getting harder. There’s so much cruelty inherent in bootstraps rhetoric. And it circles right back around to sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism. It’s a shit ton easier to pull your bootstraps up if you’re privileged.

I used to think that too :/ Story time: my stepmom said she only switched to voting republican when she got into small buisnesses. Because apparently that makes it okay that republicans are trying to take (or keep) away some people rights.

Not even mentioning the number of people who are hurt by poverty. And its like, worse case if you go the other way on fiscal issues is that the rich are marginally less rich, and thats not going to hurt anyone, , wehre if soemone cant afford food or rent, that definetly hurts people.

Sorry for rambling/ preaching to the choir.

Delphi Ote
Delphi Ote
7 years ago

Oooh! I have an alternate theory that hits the data points pretty well. The hotel is requiring them to get the extra security because they’ve got some dangerous loons in their midst. Their own people are the reason for the security. The hotel isn’t comfortable hosting their event without some kind of crowd control.

So they’re really stuck paying extra money. That part isn’t a lie. But whenever something goes bad in their world, what do they do? Blame feminists, of course! The reason they need the security is feminist death threats! As people get skeptical, they elaborate on the lie. Since they are idiots, they aren’t doing a very good job.

Why do I like my theory? See above. They’re not exactly the brightest. The other theories require a bit more metacognition and empathy than I think that crowd can muster. My theory just requires id and scapegoating, which is their entire raison d’etre.

LBT (with an open writeathon!)

RE: banshee

People who bash Tea Partiers don’t know any.

…I’m honestly impressed ANYONE would defend the Tea Party. Republicans and libertarians, sure, but Tea Partiers? They’re awful!

RE: Howard Bannister

It’s okay, dude. I used to be a pro-life rape survivor. Yeah, try to ponder THAT one.

Marie
Marie
7 years ago

@Delphi Ote

uh, can we avoid calling people ‘dangerous loons’? :/

pecunium
7 years ago

banshee: mmhm, enough with the gratuitous political potshots. People who bash Tea Partiers don’t know any. None of this was about politics til you went off on your little rant.

The ignorance in this one is strong. First there is the non-sequitur potshot about Tea Party Politics: an attempt to paint us as some sort of nasty liberal; the more transparent because it’s the first mention of the larger political scene. It’s also sort of stupid as a tactic, because while it may make the person who says it feel better in their cocoon of, “all the do is make shit up”, it’s patently obvious to those of us who do know extremists of the divergent political stripe that we know them and excoriate them based on that knowledge.

But the rest of it… it was all about politics. The MRM is about politics. The politics of equality (they are against it). Pretending that 1: it isn’t and 2: somehow it being about politics diminishes its importance (because politics, like semantics, is petty, and unimportant, not compared to real things like what to do about all those women who make false rape accusaations… oh wait, that’s more politics).

It’s all about politics, because politics is the art of groups living together.

Dismissing it as,”only” politics is an attempt to get the other side to quit the field.

Fuck that noise.

Auntie Alias
Auntie Alias
7 years ago

If the hotel decided the risk and bad publicity aren’t worth it, are they legally permitted to tell AVFM to take a hike or are they contractually obligated to follow through?

contrapangloss
7 years ago

When Delphi wrote dangerous loons, did anyone else imagine a common loon in a trench coat, with a spy arsenal?

I might have been reading too much bird stuff, recently.

LBT (with an open writeathon!)

At Pride, my husband had to march behind a church who kept talking about how he’d burn in hell over loudspeakers.

GUESS WHAT PARTY THEY WERE, BANSHEE?

contrapangloss
7 years ago

Peter Gunn is now stuck in my head. Blasted spy-loon and imagination.

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