Big Lies, Big Pain
Last July I broke up with my fiancée because she was lying, cheating, and going back on her commitments. She “begged” for me to take her back by email and I turned her down. Four months later, when prompted by an ex-volunteer who was angry because a woman he was interested in ditched him to pursue me instead, she made an attack video “exposing” me. He also made a video in order to “corroborate” her account of my “bad character.” She accused me of being emotionally abusive, something multiple witnesses to our relationship testified in their own video responses was untrue. She accused me of being sexually abusive by not paying enough attention to her during and after a threesome. She failed to point out that she initiated it, and then initiated two more, and that the relationship was open for her with other women, but not for me. She accused me of writing a “sex-slave contract” and forcing her to sign it, which she posted on Facebook. She left out the cover letter showing that she wrote it because I was giving her a second chance despite how much she had already “screwed up” by failing to live up to her commitments. I said that if we were to stay together, we should write down what we think our commitments to each other are. She said I don’t have to because I had been honoring my commitments. I didn’t even know she had written the contract until she surprised me with it. She called me a “sociopath.” The lies that I heard her telling about me secondhand were even more horrific. One woman told me some of the things I had been accused of in off-the-record stories were, “so horrific that it’s impossible for me to put them out of my mind.”
She was definitely going for sympathy. She was starting her own public career and certainly got some exposure. Before she made her video, my ex-fiancée and ex-volunteer had a plan to make sure it got maximum exposure in order to “take him down.” (This was exposed months later by his screenshots of their conversations.) She was raising money to do ayahuasca in Peru for three months in order to become a shaman. After I broke up with her, she moved in with her mother and was making money by selling her paintings online for her on commission. She was actually ripping people off by collecting the funds and not actually sending the paintings. (This happened to one of my close friends.) She got enough money to go to the jungle.
When all this happened, I was in conversations with a network about getting another TV show. That was cut off. Donors to my nonprofit cancelled their recurring donations. I had a speaking gig and two interviews cancelled. People whom I’d never heard of began attacking me on the internet in a perversion of the “me too” spirit. “He was rude to me at an event!” “He touched my butt in a photo op!” “He once used the n word!” “He’s oily!” “He said something mean about fat people!” Of all the falsely accused out there, I was one of the relatively lucky ones. No legal consequences, no job to lose, no resignation to hand in. And while I had all the documentation necessary to prove my accusers liars, it was of little help.
The Easy Part
This has easily been the most difficult experience of my life. More traumatic than my combat experience in Iraq. More sleepless nights. More explanations. And this is despite the fact that the people around me stood by me. Two of the people to whom she bragged about cheating, made videos about it defending me and refuting her accusations. Another public figure who she had lied to about me in order to take advantage of him (despite the fact that he knew me well and saw through her very easily) made a video explaining how she was the abuser in the relationship. (He was the first to get me to admit that I had been the victim of emotional abuse and manipulation throughout the entire relationship.) But some of my “friends” turned on me, and I learned who my true friends are.
Eventually, the ex-volunteer who orchestrated the “take down” confessed in a rambling video. He leaked the conversations between him and my ex-fiancée showing that it was a deliberate conspiracy to destroy my reputation and that they had lied to many others to rope them into the conspiracy. Some of them have apologized to me privately. Some were eager to join the effort because they supported someone who sees himself as a political rival. (This is a Republican who my ex-volunteer supported, but claimed he no longer did when he started volunteering for me.) They were happy to run with the dirt, true or not. (I’m very glad that this Republican is an “ex-Libertarian” as there is no place for this kind of sleazy political culture in the party of principle.) After she was exposed, my ex-fiancée made an apology video saying that she supports me and my work and she took her attack video down. She even asked those who had reposted it to take it down, but that’s not how the internet (or politics) works. As Mark Twain (allegedly) said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” The damage had been done, and there was to be no accountability for the people who had deliberately and maliciously attacked me.
I made a response video and apologized for things I was not responsible for in order to calm the storm. Many people said that I responded brilliantly and gracefully, even gentlemanly, but I know I didn’t respond optimally. She said she left me to get away from me because I was so abusive. I had the proof that I had broken up with her, which would have caused her entire story to unravel, but I did not defend myself. The first reason was because I knew that her mental health was fragile and that calming things down would be better for her. She had been diagnosed bipolar and went off her meds before we started dating. (I later discovered that she was cheating on her boyfriend she was living with when she hooked up with me. I was not a knowing accomplice. I should have known that she would end up doing the same thing to me.) I thought I was sacrificing my reputation for the sake of her mental health. But there was also the shame. I didn’t want the public to know that I had been with a women who cheated on me. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had been the victim of emotional abuse and manipulation and that I had allowed myself to be taken advantage of for so long. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was still paying for the service on the phone that I bought her at the time that she made her video with it. I was afraid that if I came out swinging, it would make it worse. Then I would be seen as the aggressor, as a man attacking a woman.
I am still dealing with the fallout of this episode. I see echoes of it with new false accusations on social media every day. It is brought up as an attack on my character regularly. I hear stories of people reluctant to work with me because of “that video with his ex.” And this is for a case that should be easy to judge. I have proof that the accusations were false. I have confessions from both primary conspirators. I have over a decade of impeccable conduct as an activist and a reputation for integrity as a journalist, an activist, and as a person in general. I had people who defended me immediately and put their names to their testimonies of my good character. Both of my primary accusers have publicly revealed their mental health issues. My ex-fiancée even made a blog post about how she “used to be a compulsive liar.” She gave a speech about how she used to be “abusive and controlling” in relationships. But that doesn’t stop the pain or the consequences. And that didn’t stop my family from being dragged into this, who are still occasionally bashed on social media.
Both of my primary accusers have apologized to me personally and said they would like to make it up to me. In their own ways, both have tried. I have multiple communications from both of them expressing their regret, love, and desire to make things right. I don’t think either one of them is capable of undoing the damage. And so far, for these particular transgressions, I have no way to fairly hold them accountable for the losses suffered by myself, my organization, my family, my friends, and my supporters. It is primarily for my supporters, who have asked me repeatedly to set the record straight, that I now tell this story, reluctantly. I hope it’s the last time I ever have to tell it.
Now for a paragraph of disclaimers. I make these statements with periods, not “buts.” The #metoo movement is good for the world. Most of the anger behind it is righteous and a long time coming. We will all be better off when victims are comfortable coming forward. We need better ways to hold abusive people accountable. Power corrupts. Women have been systematically oppressed in ways that are shifting now. This shift is a good thing. The internet is making it much easier to hold people accountable. I am not writing this to be seen as a victim. I am not looking for sympathy. I am not making excuses for my bad judgement. Nor am I excusing my failure to appropriately address the mental health issues of those around me, a failure for which I am particularly ashamed given my own history of activism helping veterans with PTSD. I am nowhere close to a perfect partner. I’ve been extremely challenging to date. There are plenty of legitimate things to attack me about. Treating someone, the way I have been accused of treating my ex-fiancée, is abhorrent to me. I am leaving out names for a number of reasons, but mainly because one of my points here is that we should be able to prioritize our attention to bigger injustices. I have forgiven everyone of everything possible, and I want everyone to know that I have let go of all hard feelings.
Judge Not Lest …
Judgement is a tricky thing. Not something to be avoided, something to be done right. Anyone who is a capable, critical thinker understands why we have standards of evidence and why conviction for a crime must be done with certainty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Again, my case was exceptionally easy in terms of proving my innocence. This is usually not the case.
A good friend of mine was falsely accused of rape by a woman he was dating. His name was dragged through the mud. His business collapsed. He went from being financially secure to worse than broke. The prosecutors handling his case bullied him into a corner and he ended up taking a plea deal for a lesser charge, but is still a “convicted criminal.” Anyone who cares to know the truth about him can see that he is innocent from the statement that his accuser made contradicting her original accusation. He is still often known as, “the guy that beat the rape charge.”
It gets much worse for some. When I was in jail, I met a man who had been through a similar ordeal, except that he was in jail the whole time. A black man in DC accused of raping a white woman faced an all-white jury. When his accuser recanted her testimony, it was too late, and her communications admitting to making a false accusation were “not admissible.” He may be released eventually, but not without years of false imprisonment and having been ripped from his family. He will probably never be made whole by the co-conspirators: a corrupt criminal “justice” system, and an accuser willing to use it as a weapon.
I’m not going to weigh in on any of the specific high profile cases right now or try to see which accusers are using the court of public opinion as a weapon inappropriately. Mainly because it’s a distraction from greater injustices worthy of our attention and won’t help the actual cause of justice in any of those cases. It is quite disturbing how easy it has become to smear someone based on accusations without evidence, another symptom of society’s low standards for information. Way to go America. Your elections are barely about ideas now. Can we change that?
I hope the perpetrators who violate others are held fully accountable. I hope the people who cause damage with false accusations are also held accountable, but I’m not holding my breath there. I was shocked to discover that I was worth taking advantage of in a coordinated attack by multiple people. In my case, I was lucky that it was only two people close to me who put their names on specific claims, but for someone with significant money (not me) or significant power, (not me) there would be plenty of incentive for many more accusers to falsify accounts.
Government is Not the Answer
When we entrust government to have a monopoly on justice services, there are many negative consequences. A racist war on drug users, lack of access for the poor, laws favoring government’s corporate sponsors, police given paid leave for heinous crimes, police lying under oath without consequences, and obscene treatment of prisoners, are just some of the obvious side effects. One of the less obvious, but just as destructive, is the encouragement of false accusations by making it possible to destroy someone’s life without consequences. While the current “mania” sweeping America is still a good thing overall, it is happening in front of a backdrop of a deeply corrupt and unjust culture that is not fully prepared to face this adjustment. I want accusers to be taken seriously, and they will be taken that much more seriously when we know that everyone faces fair consequences for false accusations.
I have dedicated my career as an activist to righting the great injustices of the world. In that pursuit, I have come to a unified system of ethics known as Voluntaryism that guides my analysis of the world. Voluntaryism is the belief that all human relationships should be voluntary rather than coercive, because coercive relationships violate someone’s right to own themselves and are always less conducive to human happiness than relationships in which all participants choose to participate of their own free will. The very existence of government as we know it, is a violation of these principles. Its laws are imposed by force and based on a system of punishment and control, rather than justice. Punishment is hurting someone because you didn’t like what they did and want to control them. Justice is making victims whole and holding violators accountable for the damage they cause.
We then say that it is wrong to violate someone else through force, coercion, or fraud. So it is wrong to steal by force, by threat of force, and by deception. If words can constitute a violation when they are intended to deceive because they are depriving someone of property, at what point could dishonest reputation damage done to someone be a violation of what we call the “non-aggression principle” if it causes them to lose business or relationships?
We’re Better Than This
As for the current state of affairs, I’m scared. Yeah, I can admit it. My campaign manager is a woman, but if I had to be co-located with a female employee who I didn’t know very well, that would scare the heck out of me. I don’t ever want to be alone with a woman I don’t deeply know and trust ever again. I’m afraid to do photo ops with fans without a video camera there to document everything to make sure that no one can say I touched their butt. I record all of my phone calls (legal in Arizona where I live, illegal in most other states) and keep digital records of everything that I can. In my case, I had all the documents possible to prove that my accusers were liars and even then it wasn’t enough. Technology makes it much easier to hold people accountable, but we still have to use it properly. I look forward to the day when we can have cameras everywhere we could possibly want them (and nowhere we don’t!) that upload to a cloud that can only be accessed for legitimate purposes. We have the technology, but we have only begun to realize its potential. We are in desperate need of a better system and culture of accountability. We can’t let the current conversation lead to a greater rift between men and women. Or anyone whose gender could be used against them.
As for the cases of rape, if you are raped, and have a chance to stop another rape from happening, but accept a payment instead, how much does that make you responsible for future rapes by the same rapist? To hear some people say they knew about some of the abuses in Hollywood the whole time but never did anything except tell jokes about it just tells me how sick the culture is from top to bottom. (But who knows, maybe this thing started as an attempt to compensate for low ticket sales. Sicker plots have been hatched from the sick minds of fame-chasers. I’ve been boycotting Hollywood since 2011.) If you are a woman who will sleep around to get ahead, how does that affect women who can’t or won’t? Whatever system we have, needs to address these issues. Neat and simple narratives are easy and tempting. Reality isn’t neat or simple.
It’s discouraging to see that the mainstream American conversation can be so easily misguided by the powers that be who seek to manipulate and exploit us. Here’s an immediately relevant bit of data for some jarring perspective: more men than women are raped every day in America. When you hear why, if you haven’t figure it out already, you’re going to slap yourself in the forehead … prison rape. As much as women are suppressed in speaking out, in some ways, it’s worse for men who are expected to suck it up, tough it out, and be a man about it. Men are socially conditioned to suppress their own victimization. Generally speaking, it is more embarrassing for a man to admit that he was victimized than for a woman.
In my case, when it was revealed that my ex was the abuser in the relationship, many women came out to tell me that I must have been equally at fault. Can you imagine a woman in my situation being told that she’s at fault for being the victim in an abusive relationship and the victim of a smear campaign? When men come out as victims of abuse, they are even less respected than women in the same situations. We seem to accept that victim-blaming is ok for men, but not so much for women. Even when it was revealed that my accusers were liars, people told me that I shouldn’t tell my story. When I hear about how under-reported rapes are, I wonder how under-reported prison rapes are. I was sexually assaulted in jail myself by female guards frisking me unnecessarily and the cliche “frisky gay dude” with some unwelcome gropes. To a man, this kind of thing is barely even worth noting, let alone reporting. So yeah, in short … we have plenty of problems with rape in America, but most people didn’t care until it was being done by and to famous people.
As a sidebar here, I have to call attention to the double standards in sexual assault and harassment. It’s considered much worse when a man assaults a woman than when it happens the other way around. I don’t have a problem with there being a double standard here because there are TWO different things. When a man grabs a woman’s ass, it generally carries a greater threat than when it happens the other way around. Society SHOULD be more concerned with the man who displays behavior that doesn’t respect a woman’s self-ownership. That being said, how do we respond? Are we capable of holding everyone to the same standards socially and legally regardless of gender?
Part of the problem with embracing a government-based system of “justice” is that we have to reject justice in the first place. (Taxation is theft.) Government monopolies prevent communities from providing better justice services through restorative justice and similar restitution and community based solutions. You think that government cares about holding rapists accountable? Then explain to me why there are police department crime labs where rape kits go untested while innocent people are being busted for victimless crimes in the war on drug users! This sick system is a perversion of justice.
Obviously, as has been said many times in the conversation around #metoo, we need to separate transgressions by severity. A sexist joke is not the same as a grope. As Time’s Person of the Year story said, “Neither should be encouraged, but nor should they be equated.” So on what scale do we measure them? While I have the ethical compass of voluntaryism, no matter what honest scale you use, it’s easy to see that the greatest ethical transgressions are committed in the name of government, made possible by government, and encouraged by government. Can we measure that which violates someone else’s self-ownership by the damage caused? Can we constrain ourselves to nonviolent responses to nonviolent transgressions?
So this is where I have to get a little preachy. It really says something about you when you claim to be a fighter of injustice, but you pick the flashy injustices to fight before the big ones. According to Henry David Thoreau, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” We will never be able to properly address any of the issues that I have raised here until we embrace a consistent concept of justice. That is what Voluntaryism has to offer. I hope you’ll research this idea enough to have a thorough understanding of it. (If you want to start with my book, you can get it free at TheFreedomLine.com/freedom.) Yeah, it’s mostly men who are responsible for government because it’s based on violence, but our physical advantages are fading in relevance and this is just human progress. Women should not be disappointed that Hillary lost. If we can stop doing this government thing before electing a woman President, women will be able to blame it on men until the end of time!
I know that this post is going to stir up some dust. I know that people are going to be looking into my past even more now. I know that there will be comments attacking me from all angles. I know that some people will see this as another opportunity to criticize me. You’ll probably even see more pictures of my face with an exaggerated nose on a body getting shoved into an oven. I don’t care. I’m beyond caring. I never wanted to be a public figure in the first place. It’s enough of a mindfuck as it is without people treating you like you’re not a real person any more. I once confronted someone directly who had said something particularly cruel about me online who I thought was a friend. He actually said, “I didn’t really think of you as a person so much as a public figure.” My privacy is dead. A piece of my humanity is gone. A small sacrifice for the cause.
Some people will try to discredit my story. Others will hope it gets ignored. If this story is never mentioned by the mainstream media outlets that have shared so many other #metoo stories, it should show you who cares about justice and who cares about manipulating your emotions. Who will dare to show the facts that challenge a dominant, emotionally-driven narrative? When are we going to get a #metoo moment for victims of government? Will it only come when the mainstream media decides to stop protecting our abuser? Is the #metoo movement big enough to include stories like mine?
Everyone who has bothered to honestly look into my story, knows the truth and most have become protective of me, for which I am deeply grateful. I hope the broader effect of this episode for everyone can be more empathy. That’s how love is manifested, that’s how we connect, and that’s how we heal the world. Without empathy, we will never have freedom. I’m encouraged by the conversation around #metoo. Humanity is experiencing an intense growth spurt and it’s going to come with growing pains. This episode has set me back in countless ways, but it has also made me stronger and wiser in ways that I didn’t know were possible. I am running for President in 2020 on the platform of ending the presidency itself and dissolving the federal government. There are going to be more attacks on me. There will be more videos. More lies. More fake screenshots. Brace yourselves. I guarantee there will never be any footage of me doing anything but my best to live up to my mother’s ideal of the perfect gentleman.