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Stefan Molyneux,
the BBC, and the Truth

In my post Molyneux’s response to the UK Guardian article, analyzed, I stepped through each part of Molyneux’s response to the Guardian theme-by-theme. It was long because it had to be. Unless you know FreeDomainRadio very well, you wouldn’t notice the real meaning behind Molyneux’s carefully couched arguments.

Today’s entry is different. This morning (November 21, 2008), the Canadian philosopher Molyneux gave an interview to BBC Radio Three Counties: Breakfast and I’m going to analyze only one single word of his response.

Yesterday, that same show interviewed Barbara Weed, Tom’s mother. (Even if you can’t find the audio on the BBC site, both interviews have been transcribed by Karen at her Iconoclast or Malcontent? blog.

In Barbara’s interview, she talked of her 18-year-old son—a brilliant, inquisitive, and sensitive young man—and his slow descent into the world of FDR. As I mentioned yesterday, she talked about the indoctrination process, as Tom spent night after night downloading and listening to podcast after podcast, many of them about the abusive and destructive nature of families. She mentioned how she began to grow a little concerned, but Tom reassured her that Molyneux was “OK.”

It was OK that a man on the internet was giving him advice because he had published books.

Molyneux was notable. He was an author.

Except that all of Molyneux’s books are self-published. Molyneux has long suggested that one novel, Revolutions, is published by an actual publisher. But PublishAmerica, who produced the book, is a known vanity house.

That Molyneux’s books are self-published doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t credible. But since you could swab your forehead with ink, slam your head onto a stack of paper, and self-publish that, if you like, it doesn’t necessarily qualify you to give advice either.

Revolutions has been available from Amazon for over five years. At the time of this writing, it has been reviewed by only one reader, “Christina” from Canada, who said the book was “An extraordinary piece of work.”

Molyneux’s wife is named Christina.

It doesn’t appear that the interviewer had prepared for either interview much beyond reading Kate Hilpern’s article, but you can learn a lot from that article. For example, as I mentioned yesterday, Molyneux responded with haughty indignation that Kate Hilpern was taking the word of one sole woman. It was a weak argument, since Kate had clearly talked to others and quoted only Barbara. Compare that to the published man who was giving advice on the internet. The man who wove the dark story of Tom’s family. Who else did he talk to?

Kate Hilpern wrote a newspaper article. She interviewed a number of people and made sure her quotes were accurate.

Molyneux ripped a family apart. And he didn’t talk to a soul.

Except Tom, of course—but even then it was Molyneux who supplied the quotes. In his on-line therapy with Tom, it was Molyneux who shifted the conversation from cruelty to animals to Tom’s parents.

It was Molyneux who told Tom that he was troubled about cruelty to animals because his father had treated him like one.

It was Molyneux who framed Tom’s father as an “evil son-of-a-bitch.”

It was Molyneux who told Tom that his mother got pregnant solely to serve Tom up as an offering to his demonic father.

The distraught Tom (who had actually begun sobbing even before Molyneux began talking about his family, who was sobbing because Molyneux suggested he cared more about cruelty to animals than cruelty to people) listened as the published man on the internet connected all the dots.

Today, the BBC conducted its short interview with Molyneux. The interviewer entertained the sensational notion a “Web site” had caused Tom to leave home, without acknowledging all the other nudging that clearly went on. The main focus was on the role Molyneux played in the 18-year-old’s decision to secretly obtain college grants and suddenly leave, refusing to speak again with any member of his family.

The interviewer was interested to know: “Are you telling me that you would never suggest to somebody like Tom that he should turn his back on his family?”

On this side of the pond, audiences are sometimes uncomfortable with confrontational journalism. Our preferred style when it comes to “yes or no” questions is to listen as the journalist who is interviewing—say, a politican—asks the question, waits politely as the politician spins without answering, and then respectfully moves on to the next topic.

Apparently not so with the BBC. After the interviewer asks the question the first time, Molyneux spins. So he asks him again. Molyneux spins again. So he asks him a third time, “I’m just asking you whether or not you ever suggested to Tom that he should go and turn his back on the family and cease communication with them. Did you suggest that at all?”

And then came the word. The one word that this entry is all about.

“No.”

Perhaps you think at this point I will produce proof that he did tell Tom to leave home, but I can’t. Molyneux was factually correct as far I can tell—nowhere have I seen any evidence that Molyneux told specifically Tom to leave his family. But this article is about truth—and that’s something the interviewer didn’t hear.

To a philosopher, truth is among the most sacred of words. No prize so precious. No goal more dear.

In fact, the man who gives advice on the internet self-published a book entitled “On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion” (In the book, it turns out the truth is that parents are liars and bullies. No doubt Tom read this book.)

So it is a happy ending for us all that Molyneux correctly stated the facts. Unless, of course, Molyneux used those facts to create his own tyranny of illusion about his relationship with Tom.

And avoided the truth that in the “community” Molyneux leads, he often preaches about the benefits of discarding family and friends when the relationship is “unsatisfactory.”—and spends an equal amount of time explaining why “nearly all parents are horribly bad.” That he has discarded his family, his wife has discarded her family, and many of his closest followers have discarded theirs.

And then there’s the actual podcast with Tom* himself. If Molyneux—the author and philosopher who offers advice on the internet—is not specifically telling Tom to leave home, then what exactly is he telling the 18-year-old when he asks if he is “sick and tired of obeying the crazy assholes”?

  • And makes a comparison between the way Tom’s parents treat him and a woman being raped.
  • And tells Tom that when you’re being raped, you don’t wonder about the rapist’s own bad childhood, you just jab him in the eyes and run.
  • And tells Tom that in terms of his mental health, he’s living in a toxic environment.
  • And advises Tom that he can live on practically nothing except student aid if he wants to get out now.
  • And that Tom’s parents keep him trapped at home simply so they won’t feel guilty about their abuse of him.
  • And that Tom is sacrificed for their needs, always.
  • And that Tom doesn’t even exist for them except as a vessel to vomit their feelings into—to act out, to frighten, to bully, to terrify, to control, to manipulate, to lie to, to twist around.
  • And that his parents are toxic people who might as well be spewing sulfuric acid into the air.
  • And that he grew up in a “fucking gulag”
  • And that he lives in his own personal slaughter-house, where he is bludgeoned daily.

Oh, yes. The published man who gives advice on the internet said all that and more. All based on a short interview with Tom alone and the information that Tom’s father would sometimes lose his temper, shout, and throw things around in his office.

In his heart, the published man who gives advice on the internet probably believes he was giving Tom sympathy. But, as I listen to the podcast, it feels more as if he is battering him with it, beating Tom down with histrionic rage against Tom’s parents until the 18-year-old began to share it.

So, you see, whether or not Molyneux specifically advised Tom to leave home has never been the issue. All Molyneux needed to do was use every part of his eloquence and the stature of authority Tom had granted him to convince the 18-year-old that staying with his family would be a horrific, painful, and certain emotional death. In other words, the published man on the internet simply left Tom no other choice—to stay in that house would be sheer insanity. And Tom, who idolized the published man, believed him.

So when Molyneux told the reporter “no”—when he told the reporter he did not tell Tom to leave his family—he was technically correct.

But was he being honest?

Click below to e-mail or DIGG, etc., this article! As always, I welcome your comments!

*(Tom’s therapy begins at about an hour and 26 minutes in. It starts with Tom saying, “Hi Stef, I have a yearning, burning, if that’s OK?” [I believe he means “yearning, burning question.”])