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Paul Elam, you're no MLK: A Voice for Men offers a $100 bounty for a clear photo of its latest feminist foe

Cartoon by Sage Gerard. aka "Victor Zen," AVFM's golen boy of campus activism
Cartoon by Sage Gerard, AVFM’s golden boy of campus activism

Today I’d like to share with you two quotations. One is from Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader whose legacy we honor today. The other is from someone who considers himself the leader of a human rights movement that follows in the footsteps of King.

The first quote:

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

The second:

[Name redacted], I hope you are looking forward to our date. I certainly am. … [I]t is clear that you have gone to great lengths to keep your image off the internet.

Nice try.

Is that a threat? No, it is a promise. Big difference.

As we have been saying here for years, the time for collegial, polite discussion and negotiation with these piles of refuse is over. …

We have people working on securing her image. Meantime, $100.00 to the first person who gets us a clear image of her which we can verify. Something large and clear enough to be used as a feature image is preferred.

As you have probably gathered, the first quote comes from Dr. King. It’s from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, in which he sets forth a powerful argument for the transformative power of nonviolence, which, as he notes, “nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.”

The second quote comes from Paul Elam of A Voice for Men. I’ve taken the liberty of redacting the name of his target.

Yes, this self-described “humanitarian” is launching yet another campaign of doxxing and intimidation aimed at an ideological enemy who just happens to be female. And once again, as he so notoriously did several years ago, Elam is offering a bounty for the personal information of one of his targets – in this case a clear photograph of her face.

It’s a strategy that draws not on the tactics of Martin Luther King but on those of his enemies – in particular the Ku Klux Klan, which in the 1960s posted “wanted posters” featuring the faces of civil rights activists, including King himself. Some of those whose faces appeared on these “wanted posters,” most famously King himself, were later murdered.

In more recent years, anti-abortion activists have posted similar “wanted posters” featuring the pictures and addresses of doctors who perform abortions – some of whom were themselves later murdered.

Now AVFM has taken up this classic technique of intimidation.

Last year, AVFM activists – including the site’s “activism director” Attila Vinczer — posted hundreds of wanted-style posters of feminist philosophy professor Adele Mercier on and around the campus of Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario. The year before, a Men’s Rights group in Edmonton closely associated with A Voice for Men put up similar posters targeting Lise Gotell, the chair of women’s and gender studies at the University of Alberta.

We can only assume that Elam has a similar campaign in mind for his latest target.

So what are Elam’s charges against this new woman to hate?

According to him, the woman, a professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, accused AVFM activist Sage Gerard (aka Victor Zen) of “demonstrat[ing] a desire to kill women” in a complaint she filed with the KSU administration.

Elam has posted the complaint on his website. Her name appears nowhere in the complaint, nor does anything about Gerard wanting to kill women.

[ Clarification: Elam has now posted a separate campus police report about an incident in which Gerard came to the office of the Interdisciplinary Studies department requesting to see the professor; the police report contains her name as well as notes from the officer saying that “she has seen the cartoons, videos and blogs online and believes Gerard demonstrates having violent fantasies about hurting and murdering women.” ]

This anonymous complaint, along with another complaint about Gerard, were evidently triggered by a video Gerard posted last year of a late-night “sticker run” he made on the KSU campus.

The video, which Gerard filmed and narrated on the fly, is more than a little creepy. In it, Gerard describes his preparations for his “activism” as if he were launching some sort of covert operation; at one point he talks about hiding his stickers in the sleeves of his jacket. As he heads out the door to start his stickering, he announces “let’s go fuck with people.”

Gerard clearly sees what he’s doing as a deliberately provocative act. He talks about putting AVFM stickers in places “where they cannot be ignored” and about his desires to “push the boundaries” by plastering them in places they’re really not supposed to be put – most notably in a women’s bathroom where, thankfully, no women were present.

Weirdly, given that he later posted the video on his YouTube channel, Gerard also took steps in the video to conceal his identity and cover his tracks, wiping his fingerprints off of some of the stickers after pasting them in a bathroom. Later, apparently wanting to look as much like a serial killer as possible, he dons latex gloves.

At one point, Gerard jokes about how he’d like to paste one of the stickers over the mouth of a feminist to shut her up.

His behavior in the video and in his interactions with others on campus, as well as his affiliation with AVFM, clearly rattled some on the KSU campus. The anonymous complainant to the KSU administration suggested that Gerard’s actions were creating a “hostile work environment” for some faculty and staff and making students fear for their safety.

Elam has posted the actual complaints, which, in what seems to be a pretty clear violation of privacy, were sent to Gerard with the identity of one of the accusers laid bare. Here’s the anonymous complaint that Elam has attributed to his current target:

Among other similar offenses by the same individual, a KSU student (Sage Gerard) posed as a custodian and entered the women’s bathrooms on campus, placing stickers intended to intimidate women. … Gerard’s behavior indicates contemplation of violence against women (he posts art depicting guns pointed at women’s symbols, as well as other violently anti-feminist themes). His behavior has created a hostile work environment for multiple KSU employees who do not only fear intimidation and harassment, but actual physical violence against themselves and their families. KSU students have also expressed real fears for their own physical safety on campus . . . I do not feel safe on this campus. As an advocate of women, I feel strongly that I am at real risk of becoming the target of violent retaliatory actions perpetrated by Sage Gerard and the organization sponsoring him, A Voice For Men.

Emphasis mine.

The KSU administration investigated these complaints, and concluded that Gerard was not responsible for creating a hostile work environment, and that his speech was protected under the first amendment. The complaints were dismissed; no charges against Gerard were even filed.

He was asked to stay out of women’s bathrooms in the future. And the KSU counsel who prepared the report also had this suggestion:

We do recommend that Mr. Gerard continue to refrain from further contact with the persons who made the hotline reports (or those who Mr. Gerard believes may have made them), to avoid any real or perceived retaliation. In addition, we recommend that Mr. Gerard refrain from further contact with the members of the Interdisciplinary Studies Department to avoid escalating the situation to the point that it becomes a hostile environment in the legal sense.

That’s right. Gerard wasn’t charged with anything. He faced no sanctions. He was simply asked not to contact those on campus he was making uncomfortable.

But apparently this “no contact” request is so offensive to Gerard and his AVFM comrades that they have decided to launch the very retaliation campaign that the KSU complainants were afraid of. Thus, once again, proving their critics have been right to label them a hate group in the first place.

AVFM’s new target joins a long list of women (and a few men) who have been doxxed and/or harassed in retaliation for their “crimes” against Paul Elam’s delicate sensibilities.

Elam started off this parade of harassment shortly after this site started by attempting to get a woman fired from her job at a women’s shelter for a comment she made here in which she wondered aloud if Elam had a criminal record.

Since then, Elam and his AVFM cronies have:

Started Register-Her, a fake “Offenders Registry” designed to vilify and intimidate women. (The site is now in the hands of AVFM defector John Hembling.)

Launched a hate campaign against a college student for attending a demonstration and making a few jokes on Twitter.

Gleefully participated in the unending harassment of a Canadian feminist that one AVFM author dubbed “little red frothing fornication mouth,” for her crime of … arguing with some AVFM activists at a demonstration once. Unflattering images of “Big Red” at that demonstration have since been plastered all over the internet; she even has a page devoted to her on KnowYourMeme.

Launched a years-long harassment campaign against feminist writer Jessica Valenti. Starting with a 2011 post in which Elam himself attacked her as a “stupid, hateful bitch,” the hate campaign has moved on to  labeling her a “child abuser,” posting her personal photos on AVFM without permission, putting her on Register-Her.com, and libeling her by making up inflammatory quotations and attributing them to her. (AVFM’s “social media director” and serial quote-fabricator Janet Bloomfield was evidently permabanned from Twitter for her persistent harassment of Valenti.)

Supported GamerGate’s harassment of cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, with AVFM’s PR whiz Bloomfield doing her part by blatantly libeling her on Twitter.

Launched a campaign of vilification against a Chicago-area “mommy blogger” for writing that she felt uncomfortable with the idea of a male day care staffer taking young girls to the bathroom.

Along with an assortment of white supremacists and online assholes, joined in a hate campaign against a young woman wrongly accused of trashing applications from white guys as a staffer at a college admissions office. Elam declared the woman, by name, to be a “warped by ideology” with “deep seated prejudices that guided her unscrupulous actions.” The blog was a hoax, and the woman Elam so eagerly vilified had nothing to do with it.

Repeatedly accused a Detroit schoolteacher – with zero evidence – of sending death threats to a hotel that was scheduled to host AVFM’s conference last summer.

Published an article falsely accusing a male feminist blogger of being a “confessed rapist,” because, as Elam puts it, “karma is a BITCH.” (AVFM’s defense? It was being “satirical.”)

Accused a former AVFM staffer, with no evidence, of absconding with money donated for a men’s shelter.

Attacked feminist and skeptic Rebecca Watson on numerous occasions, including a post from Elam in which he used the term “whore” several dozen times.

And of course AVFM has accused me of everything from starting Reddit’s terrible BeatingWomen subreddit to somehow faking my site’s traffic stats on Alexa. (AVFM has never even bothered to provide “evidence” for any of their various accusations against me, perhaps because none of them are even remotely true.) Elam has posted bizarre sexual fantasies involving me, called me a pervert, and publicly suggested that I kill myself. One of AVFMs most, er, enthusiastic activists once left me a creepy, threatening voicemail at 1:38 AM. And AVFM “activism director” Attila L. Vinczer has tried to dox me, with somewhat comic results.

This isn’t even close to an exhaustive list of AVFM’s assorted retaliatory campaigns against feminists and other critics.

AVFM has made it very clear to the world – through its actions and its rhetoric – that if someone starts putting up AVFM posters or stickers on your campus or in your neighborhood, you have every reason to worry.

AVFM is not a civil or human rights group by any stretch of the imagination. It is a hate group, plain and simple, less akin to Martin Luther King Jr. than it is to those who so stubbornly fought against him.

NOTE: Here is Sage Gerard’s (aka Victor Zen’s) video of his sticker “activism.” You can probably see why people found it a little unsettling.

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marinerachel
5 years ago

Cyberwulf’s namecalling really adds a valuable layer to this discussion.

marinerachel
5 years ago

Made that comment before seeing your post, David.

I’m disengaging. This isn’t fun anymore. It’s apparent, for the time being, any mention of matters pertaining to the general biologically female-associated body will be met with “You mean menses-havers/Stop being trans-exclusionary.” This is what we’re talking about when people complain about political correctness going to far.

sunnysombrera
5 years ago

I think here is a good point to bury the hatchet on this guys.

Cyberwulf, please please resist the urge to have the last word.

Over and out. (The thread, not the whole blog).

Cyberwulf
Cyberwulf
5 years ago

” But it certainly looks to me like there is an attempt underway, by Cyberwulf, to silence marinerachel.”

So I’ve been told to jump in a lake, called an asshole, told to shut up, and asked not to defend myself, but marinerachel’s the one being silenced because I pointed out that she was reacting to something that wasn’t actually said.

Right.

Cyberwulf
Cyberwulf
5 years ago

And now I’ve had my final word here. Feel free to attack me all you want.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants

When this thread gets made into a movie, Bill Paxton should be in it.

lordpabu
lordpabu
5 years ago

Marinerachel, I really want to apologize for making you feel like you can’t discuss your work or research in an open, straightforward way. I think my last comment added to that feeling, and I feel terrible about that.

I do have a lot of respect for you and what you do.

I won’t try to clarify what I was trying to get at because PoM echoes my sentiments really closely. And in the end, the problem is less with science and knowledgeable, responsible scientists (this is not a jab at you, Marinerachel! You are definitely one of the good guys!) and more with people in general who use scientific terms to make their agendas seem legit when they’re not. I wasn’t weirded out about the word ‘female’ until I got to this blog and saw how MRA’s of every stripe use it. It’s not the fault of science that I’ve begun to feel this way.

Tracy
Tracy
5 years ago

Um.

@morbidmonarch just wanted to you know I was really touched by your comment on the previous page, which I fear has gotten lost in… well, this. I hope you’re ok. You sound like a remarkably strong person (you may not agree, but that’s what stood out to me)

@David, I really hope you feel better soon. Also, thank you for keeping things open, and letting ppl hash things out.

How to discuss tough topics – I don’t know. I wish I did. Maybe we need a safe word.

Tracy
Tracy
5 years ago

@Buttercup I think you mean Pill Baxton.

Alex
5 years ago

@David, I really do hope you feel better.

@marinerachel, I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this bullshit.

@Sunhawk, learn how to sentence for sake of people who might want to at least attempt reading what you’re saying. Holy fuck.

@Cyberwulf, might be time to look at your life choices when you’re speaking for a marginalized group you don’t belong to attack someone of another marginalized group you don’t belong to. Jesus.

@Policy of Madness, we obviously disagree, but I have nothing against you.

I’ve been saying y because of z in my comments, and they keep being twisted back to multiple people accusing me of saying x. It’s obvious to me that’s going to keep happening no matter how many ways I reword y and explain z, so that’s enough. I may lurk from time to time, but I doubt I’ll comment anymore. Not that I did that a whole lot before, but this doesn’t feel like a community I can always come back to, the way it used to feel. That saddens me, but I’m not sure what can be done about it. Take care, all.

Alex
5 years ago

@morbidmonarch, I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with all that, and sorry you had to watch this community go to pieces. I hope you can find your inner piece and that you can make your voice heard.

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
5 years ago

I wasn’t going to post again, but I saw the comment from morbidmonarch that I assume got caught in the mod filter the first time around.

morbidmonarch, thank you for sharing your experience. I really appreciate your perspective, and I hope you continue to post.

Alex
5 years ago

*inner peace, not inner piece

mildlymagnificent
5 years ago

morbidmonarch. Sorry I somehow missed your comment yesterday.

I hope you’re feeling a bit easier now. I also hope you can stick around.

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

Bill Paxton Bill Paxton Bill Paxton Bill Paxton Bill Paxton.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

@Alex

I stopped because it seemed like you were getting upset, not because I was. I could talk about this all day, but I won’t if it means hurting someone else. I’m far enough away from the problem that it doesn’t bother me to discuss it, but it also doesn’t bother me to leave it alone.

I don’t want you to think that I think ill of you, because I don’t.

Sunhawk
5 years ago

I’m not sure where I fit into David’s pronouncement, given that I have been a regular reader if not commenter here for some time, but I’m going to bow out anyway since it seems my participation is at best ill-timed and backfired whatever noble intentions I had, so goodluck to you all in trying to make this space more inclusive and I apologize for any hurt caused by what I posted. Also I apologize for my first post if the writing structure was unsound, I was tired when I posted, probably too tired and should have just not posted in the first place.

emilygoddess - MOD
emilygoddess - MOD
5 years ago

Goddamn it, I keep coming in too late to be part of the discussion. OTOH, maybe that’s for the best…

Anyway, *mod hat on*

Cyberwulf (and everyone else), this thread was allowed to continue after the closure of the Thread of Doom because people were, for the most part, being respectful and restrained. I’m sorry, I know this is an emotional issue for everyone, but if you can’t participate in this discussion without the swearing and insults I’m going to have to ask you to walk away until you’ve cooled down. I don’t want this to devolve into another shouting match.

This also goes for everyone responding to Cyberwulf with insults and snark. I know snark is WHTM’s lingua franca and 99% of the time I love it, but this isn’t the thread for it. If we cant keep it civil, we’ll have to shut it down again.

*mod hat off*

emilygoddess - MOD
emilygoddess - MOD
5 years ago

Sunhawk, FWIW, I’m glad to see new people and doubly glad to see ones who are brave enough to wade into a topic like this despite not being well known by the other commenters. I hope you’ll come back and try again on a less fraught topic.

Sunhawk
5 years ago

Thanks Emily, I appreciate your goodwill. Best of luck in your moderating, I’ve been one myself and it’s not an easy gig at the best of times.

Sam-I-Was?
Sam-I-Was?
5 years ago

morbidmonarch-

Your comment has me at a loss for words, which is rare. Thank you & I also hope you stick around to post more

Caitlyn Renee
5 years ago

What I really hate is that colleges leave their classrooms and buildings open so that they are available for students who need to use them, and this guy is abusing it.

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