– This article about the Marc Gafni Witch Hunt was originally published on centerforintegralwisdom.org. –
Crowd Sourcing a Witch Hunt: An Eight-Step Guide to Internet Abuse
by Marc Gafni
I am greatly saddened by the necessity of writing this post. Recently, Stephen Dinan called for a boycott against a film, RiseUP, based on my original role in inspiring and galvanizing the movie. In his post, he refers to articles written against me in the last several months. The articles are part of a smear campaign that Dinan and his posse have catalyzed against me for the last five months. If necessary, at the right time, I will do a line-by-line refutation of the major deceptions in Dinan’s article.
In future posts, both in this forum and in others that are now being created I will address, in a direct and personal way, all of the key claims and actors, past and future, in the smear campaign. I have been silent for ten years, thinking that the dignity of silence, forgiveness and moving on to new creativity and contribution would cause the agony of these false attacks to fade away. By their own admission, the perpetrators of the (false) attacks against me ten years ago were shocked that I survived their attempted social murder. Sorry for the trouble folks. I know it is annoying to have to try it again and again. Sadly, they have – and this is well documented – spent much of their energy in the last eight years seeking avenues to complete the deed.
My commitment to integrity and intimacy no longer allows me to be silent. As of this post my decade of silence is over. I will respond fully via video posts, email records, as well as other forms of documentation and analysis to any and all false claims.
I stand fully against sexual harassment in all of its expressions. I stand fully against any form of victim shaming.
I also stand against all forms of name rape. Name rape often happens via false accusations which hijack the victim narrative to hide their own malice. And let me add that you cannot make false accusations and then ask not to be challenged by labeling any challenger a victim-shamer. This is a weirdly inverted form of the old adage, where the son kills his parents and then throws himself at the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. That just not okay in any way.
I also stand against the new form of cyber-bullying which is the orchestrated smear campaign.
For now, however, I want to focus specifically on the meta issues which underlie Stephen’s article, because they are more fundamental.
By his own admission in private emails, and in conversations with his colleagues, Stephen has been a key figure in an organized campaign to destroy my good name. In this, he has deployed the classic playbook of the Big Lie propaganda campaign, and adds to it some new virtual techniques.
To say it simply, Stephen is, in my best understanding, a self-styled jihadist. This phrase in regard to Stephen was coined not by myself, but by Barbara Marx Hubbard’s daughter after interacting with him in my regard. You can read Barbara’s relevant description of these sad events here.
By jihad, I mean holy war, launched by those with who are so fanatically persuaded of their righteousness that they move to destroy all who they deem infidel or heretic.
Stephen is not following the precepts of a particular fundamentalist religion. Far more insidiously, he is self-appointed. He and those attracted to, or aligned with, his vibration of jihadic consciousness are driven to save the world from demonic forces and evil. Conveniently, those that they deem evil or demonic are usually also those who arouse in them the kind of rage and grenvy – greed and envy –that is the source of malice.
Malice is a core feature of reality, which we recognize in the political, business and religious worlds but somehow we sometimes forget that it exists in the New Age Spiritual world as well. Malice is aroused, as Rene Girard reminds us, by those whose essence makes us feel somehow small, those who are professional competitors in some visceral way, as well as those who perhaps play Mozart to their Salieri, or Othello to their Iago.
Like all those engaged in various forms of jihad, Stephen is convinced of his righteousness. He has cast me as the infidel who must be both excommunicated (i.e. “don’t talk to him”) and, for the sake of the good, destroyed. In this distorted internal scenario, Stephen seems to be the self-appointed jihadist protector, protecting the purity of the helpless victims. Key to this process of course is to hide all of your own more base ulterior motives – be they financial, psychological or professional – under the fig leaf of the protector mantle. Let us state this clearly and fearlessly: this is a regressive meme that threatens the very soul of public culture.
Here’s how such a cyber-jihad campaign is done:
1) You dredge up old stories—some outright false, some merely distorted—and make contact with your target’s old enemies (such as an angry ex-wife, ex-students and professional rivals with axes to grind and hidden agendas) in order to get them to support your campaign.
2) Using loaded words like ‘sociopath’ and/or ‘pedophile’ without any evidence as to their accuracy, you begin seeding a series of false or distorted allegations about your target around the web.
3) You might even go so far as to claim, as Stephen’s closest allies have, that this so-called sociopath has occult or demonic powers. The claim that I am demonic, made both in private conversation and in public posts, has been a major theme of Stephen’s campaign. Psychologists tell me that only such a disassociated projection allows one to make sense of the extremity of the smear campaign. I do not know. Such explanation is beyond the realm of my expertise. However, I do know that the ascription of demonic powers to me allows anyone who associates with me to be said to be under some kind of malevolent spell, and anyone who wants to hear my side of the story is warned that they might be affected by my ‘demonic’ energy.
(For those interested in further sources on this see René Girard’s critical work on scapegoating. See also Wilhelm Reich’s work on the Murder of Eros.)
4) You set up a system where there is no possibility of fact checking and no possibility of transformation. In terms of fact checking, I have invited a fair process of fact checking many times. Such a process would require all parties to take responsibility, including especially responsibility for the results of organizing and leveling false complaints.
I have also invited any individual who feels hurt to engage with me in a mediated process of resolution and transformation. I am not only open but very much want to learn if there is a way that someone feels genuine hurt, for which I owe an apology. Let’s have a genuine conversation in a mediated context and see transformation and healing.
But if you are organizing a cyber-jihad campaign you must endeavor to make sure that there is not a possibility of fact checking, mutual responsibility or resolution. That would defeat the entire goal of the jihad: the destruction of the infidel. Because the infidel is in some sense demonic, no true transformation or resolution is ever possible. The infidel must be killed.
5) You must hide your malice. After all, as Milan Kundera reminds us, Malice must never admit of itself so it must always plead other motives. What are the motives that malice pleads? The perpetrator claims to be rescuing future victims or pretends to be a victim. This is famously referred to in Karpman’s “drama triangle”, or the victim triangle.
The other motives pleaded are that of being a protector. So the next step in the smear campaign playbook is to enroll a group of your friends and colleagues, by telling them that you are protecting ‘future victims’. You establish credibility by pointing to personal testimonials, none of which have been cross-checked for facts—just as, in the old witch trials, unreliable personal testimony was used to ‘prove’ that someone was a witch.
Remember again: Malice must never admit of itself so it must always plead other motives.
It is a shockingly accurate description of the approach that Dinan and his two colleagues have taken in organizing this smear campaign.
6) The next step is to crowd-source your witch hunt. In a short time, using the tools of social media, you form an internet mob. The mob generates likes, tweets, posts, blogs and the like. Credible information no longer matters. In the outpouring of vituperation, it is nearly impossible to tell that most of the statements made about the object of attack are grossly untrue; He or She has become an object. Accuracy and integrity no longer matter much when attacking an object.
You have almost all the key elements necessary to have a contemporary Trial by Internet – the modern form of a Salem Witch Trial. Just one more step is necessary. Victim Voices.
7) A key move in such a campaign is to hide behind what are ostensibly “victim voices”. You gather first person testimonies with emotionally evocative power to front your cause. It is not dis-similar to the mafia using an ostensibly kosher business to cover up for the criminal rackets of murder and extortion. Evocative first person testimonies shift attention from the true ulterior motives of the smear organizers.
First person testimonies are powerful because they evoke emotional resonance. That is why these kind of personal testimonies were so central in the European witch trials that tortured and burned –according to some estimates – tens of thousands of women at the stake.
But of course anyone who is truly involved with working with victims, knows that first testimonies are by themselves not reliable. Just ask any African American family who has a family ancestor that was lynched because a posse of white women claimed that he was sexually in appropriate with them, and they will tell you that first person testimonies can be organized for the sake of murder. Once the horrific demonizing meme of the perpetrating black person with occult powers was set into play, then dozens of white women came out of the woodwork to testify.
That is why, in a rational society, we have evolved post-witch-trials and post-lynch-mobs. We gather evidence, we check for social ties that bind the ostensible victims and look for evidence of collusion and aligning of testimony between the “victims”