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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Molyneux - Philadelphia Debate Report

“If you believe the lies, you will be at the mercy of the liars.”
Stefan Molyneux, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 5, 2009

We attended the Debate sponsored by The Campaign for Liberty (Ron Paul’s group) at Drexel University on Sunday afternoon July 5, 2009. It was due to start at 1:00 but the subject of our interest in attending (Stefan Molyneux), had forgotten he had a radio interview scheduled. So the assembled crowd of maybe 150 waited quite a while. Ron Paul gave Molyneux the podium not only for this event, but also in front of Independence Hall the day before on July 4. There were four of us. In addition to myself, my Brother, Uncle Rob, his wife of 30 years, Aunt Judi, and my good and long time friend Uncle Ralph attended. My wife did NOT attend. She simply could not fathom the idea of being in the same room with Molyneux. She waited at home. She said as we left, “good luck storming the castle.” We had a mission. As an aside, I was looking forward to the debate. I am an objectivist/libertarian type as is my brother. My son was/is also of this mind. He was well read in Ayn Rand and such. That is what set up the original appeal of Molyneux to my son. I thought a ‘minarchist’ vs anarchist debate might be interesting.

Our purpose was to accomplish the following:

The primary purpose was to warn people that Stefan Molyneux and his freedomainradio (also called FDR) web site can be very dangerous to your family relationships. If there was a college student in the audience who was taken with his charisma, we wanted them to know that his site was much more than an innocuous chat room or social network. We wanted them to be aware of the risks and techniques he uses to lure young adults away from their parents so he can get them donating to FDR.

The secondary purpose was to hope against hope that we could persuade Molyneux to reconsider his deeply misplaced belief that all parents are bad and kids should leave them to truly live and be free. Our thinking was that maybe if he stopped ruining families around the world, he might have more donators and spread his message of freedom to more people. He seems unable to process the idea that while he has a small reputation as a political pundit in the relatively small world of our libertarian community and FDR, he is mainly known as a family destroying cult leader outside the realm. And it is outside the realm where he can grow the movement by attracting new members. Maybe kids can bring the parents along. They might even be willing to fund the kid’s donations if Molyneux didn’t make it his mission to tear the parent’s hearts out. We wanted to make the case that his obsession on trying to bring all families down to his level was counterproductive. There have to be lots of examples of people visiting his site, being exposed to his clearly destructive family beliefs and leaving forever. Or hearing about his reputation as a cult leader and just never even clicking on FDR. OK, it was a long shot. But we were going to try.

In case Molyneux does not change his ways, we wanted to have our own video of Molyneux uncensored. We wanted to capture our own version of his sillier moments as he tries to make anarchy seem reasonable (Note: I am very sympathetic to the idea of anarcho-capitalism. It is just that that the empirical data is so unkind to anarchy). Anyway, we got some beautiful moments. And we wanted to capture his incredibly offensive insults to our country, our constitution, and our government. Again, Molyneux came through for us. These nutty nuggets will be clipped and filed. They will be pulled and sent to every organizer for every event he ever is going to attend. And if it is anywhere remotely within driving distance, my brother and I (and others) will be there asking the questions about the invention of DeFOO; why he hates parents; did he really kick his own mother out of the house at the age of 15? etc. When he refutes or denies, we will have the dates, times, quotes and irrefutable comments Molyneux himself to show the truth to whoever wants to know. If Sunday was any measure, he will try to censor us. We will video the intimidation from FDR so that can go on YouTube as well. I will work with the sponsor to pick us first during the Q&A. There will be media there to get our story. Not his. Rob is a video editing genius. There are so many contradictions and outright hypocrisy already in play. It is just so easy to show the world what he really is.
We were certain to see my son but he was not the emphasis for the day. It has taken a while to come to the belief that my son is on his own life track. As of today, we are there. His life is a parallel track to ours and as we all know from junior high math class, parallel paths never intersect. But we also did not want to ignore him. I sat in the auditorium. I had no intention of engaging him. We decided that Aunt Judi would greet him. Give him a hug. And let him know we were there. We decided that events would determine how things would go on that front.

We handed out a brochure that describes our family’s experience with Stefan Molyneux and his affect on our family. It was entitled, “Stefan Molyneux, How he changed my life.” The brochure was enlightening to many of the people there. It was not appreciated by the FDR acolytes. Ralph was handing out the brochures. He was told to stop; told to leave; then threatened by security at the request of the FDR folks. At one point, he was approached by security and told he needed a permit to hand out brochures. He rolled his eyes and said, “Really? I need a permit to hand out a brochure at a debate on anarchy or minimal government? I don’t think so.” Security relented and only asked that he to move slightly away from the entrance to the auditorium. Ralph did and then made doubly sure everyone got a brochure.

Judi did greet my son when he arrived. Naturally he was surprised to see her. Here is Judi’s exact account of what happened.

When My nephew entered the building I approached him, stopped in front of him and said, “Hey My nephew, how are you doing?” He just looked at me, not sure who I was. After a moment he recognized me and a smile began to come to his face and his arms began to open for a hug but he stopped himself. The greeting he had been taught by his mother and father, many years ago wasn’t offered. I again asked how he was. The smile, which hadn’t quite formed, disappeared and his arms, which he again opened briefly, were pulled back. Disturbed he asked, “What are you doing here?”
He looked around, somewhat frantically and said, “I don't want to see my father. I'm not going to talk to my father, I don't want him here.”
I said, “You don’t have to speak with your father if you don’t want to.” He then asked me again why I was there. I replied, “To see what's going on, to find out what's going to happen here.” It was a public event and I was there for the debate but more to see how things were going to go with My nephew, his uncle, his father, and me. Because of his agitated state I was a bit flustered and didn’t really give a clear answer.

He asked again why I was there. I didn’t answer and instead asked if I could have a hug. I told him he looked good. I wanted to hold him like I had in the past so I could tell his mother. He said, “I can’t”.

At this point other FDR followers gathered around us. He walked away from me with the others surrounding him. They all moved together. I called to him, “We are not here to hurt you baby, and we just want to know you are okay”. His “protectors” had swept him into the next room.
Then Stefan Molyneux, her husband, came out from the other room where he was having a conversation with my nephew. He approached his wife, and she said, “She is upset about the boy”.
Mr. Molyneux asked if I was the boy's mother, to which I stated, “No, I am his Aunt.” I then looked him straight in the eye and asked if he knew the harm he was causing families all across the world, encouraging young adults to leave their families, their support systems, and for what? He replied, “You are speaking of the young boy and the problems with his family?” I said, “Yes. You instructed him to leave his family and not to discuss what was wrong. You told him not to give them a chance to explain or apologize”. He replied "that the boy and his mother and father had undergone family therapy and as a result, decided they could not work out their problems.”

I looked around, shaken, with disbelief, at what he’d just said and saw my nephew standing within earshot. I looked at him, begging with my eyes for him to tell the truth. I wanted him to verify what I thought I knew! To my knowledge the family had not spoken to a therapist. My nephew heard the exchange and if there had been no therapy session, Stefan had just lied to me or my nephew had lied to him. My nephew stood mute, his hands still to his head and shaking.

He was surrounded by the others trying to protect him, from his aunt who only loves him and wants the best for him. I looked back at Stefan and said, “There was no therapy session”. Stefan told me I was wrong and that he would be happy to speak with me about this after the debate. They were late and needed to go inside. I replied to Stefan, that I would be more than happy to wait until after the debate to speak with him.

As I walked away I added, “I look forward to it!” Stefan and part of his entourage started to go into the hall where the debate was going to happen, and I took one last opportunity to say something to my nephew who was cowering, still separated from me by the others.
I said, “We just want to make sure you're okay”. A young, slight, and to me, insignificant woman approached and said, “We want you to leave”! I looked at her amazed, that such a young, pacifistic person would threaten me. I replied, “I am trying to speak to my nephew”, to which she said, ”We will call security and have you removed if you don't leave”. I invited her to do so, “Call them”.
I went into the auditorium, and told Rob what had transpired. what had just happened.
While telling the story to Rob I noticed that the videographer, had the camera pointed in our direction and since we were so close I knew she must have picked up the audio of our conversation. Rob was shaken by my account and went to see my nephew.
End of Judi’s account.

There is very little question that Molyneux knew there was no therapy session. He and my son know each other well. It is likely that they had dinner the night before. Molyneux spoke to my son for an hour and a half the day after my son abandoned his family and many times since. But, as Judi notes, it is remotely possible that my son told Molyneux we had family therapy. If so, as a matter of integrity, Molyneux should insist that we have that therapy session. If my son agrees I will pay for it. It will take few days. It will be expensive, but I am glad to do it if Molyneux is honorable enough to insist that it happen and my son agrees.

Alas, I don’t think my son lied to Molyneux. I am of the opinion that Molyneux did know there was no therapy involved. It is my firm judgment that he casually lied in plain sight. The two parties who could hear him (my son and Judi) knew the truth. I believe that Molyneux was fully aware that Judi and my son knew he was lying. And worse yet; he was perfectly confident he could get away with it. The level of depravity is staggering. Now if it were a regular guy trying to get away from an unpleasant situation that is one thing. But this was Molyneux. A man who claims philosophy as his mantle for all he does. If anything is important in Philosophy it is the truth. So here was the king of the philosopher kings, lying with the ease of a corrupt politician. He proceeded to carry on after a breezy offer to discuss it further with Judi after the debate. After Molyneux walked away, Judi was asked to leave by FDR followers.

Molyneux’s claim that he supports therapy for the parents and child is only for public consumption. No one can find an example of him counseling anyone to do this. Not once has anyone heard him say something like: “That doesn’t sound that abusive to me. Perhaps you should see if you can talk this out with your parents or maybe see a therapist.” I heard him just last week podcasting to a poor kid who had defoo’ed without any warning to his parents (like my son). Molyneux told the caller, in a very soothing voice, that it was justified. Molyneux offered the deeply courageous and thoughtful argument of a petulant teenager. He offered: You knew therapy or communications with your parents wouldn’t work anyway so why bother. SM knows that communication and/or legitimate therapy will likely repair any damage. He is not interested in that. It is another example of the corruption that is Molyneux.

Judi went into the auditorium to tell my brother of the encounter and that my son was very upset.

In December (after the defoo), Uncle Rob reached out to my son. They spoke via Skype while Rob was in Afghanistan. They had a thoughtful and meaningful discussion and some email correspondence. When Judi told Rob of my son’s distress, he felt it was fine for him to go out to the lobby to try and connect. Several of the FDR members gathered around my son to block my brother’s access. It was a clear show of force and a clear indication that they were ready and willing to use violence if their will was not done. Rob did not press the matter. He was in ear shot so he asked why my son would not speak with him. When he did not respond, Rob said he needed to develop some courage to deal with this irrational fear. Of course that was met with a comment by one of the FDR gaggle. “Calling him a coward isn’t going to help.” My brother said it is helpful for a man to have courage in dealing with people and problems. He said, “I think courage is a value promoted by Molyneux.” Then he said to my son, “There is no reason for you to be afraid.” As he realized there was no use in pursuing the situation, he told my son “It will be alright son. It will be alright.” Rob came back into the auditorium. My son ended up leaving the event. I suppose we did wreck his day.

The debate finally started. And finally ended with a move to Q&A. Rob’s hand went up right away. The moderator seemed to be avoiding him. A couple of people in the audience, who had our brochures and had picked up association of the brochure with Rob, told the person with the microphone to give it Rob before the moderator had a chance to take it. So Rob was able to ask Molyneux a question.

Here is the text of it, though he modified it a bit.

This is for Stefan. I started listening to you years ago when you were recording podcasts during your commute to work. I was completely on board. I went to Baghdad for a year and I was in Afghanistan after that. Reason is lacking in the war zones so your messages were a breath of fresh air.

I appreciated them enough to donate . . . because virtually every point in your philosophy rings true for me . . . but your relationship advice and family therapy is simply uninteresting. Dr. Phil is one of my least favorite shows and he KNOWS what he’s doing.

Your advice to my nephew has led directly to him abandoning his family, a little over a year ago. By any measure he abandoned a successful family, and dropped out of college in his junior year with a 4.0 GPA.

Parents make mistakes. But if you, Mr. AND MRS. Molyneux, and every other parent in the world were as good as MY brother and HIS wife, we wouldn’t have to worry about POLITICAL systems, at all.

My brother and his wife were completely devoted to their son’s success. They – WERE - NOT abusive.

By instigating the destruction of THAT family . . . you’ve caused me to completely reject you, viscerally, even though your thoughts and insights on liberty and politics are valid.

You have committed a massive mistake in destroying this family. Molyneux interrupted…”I destroyed the family?” Rob continued

. . You've repeated the same mistake with countless other families AROUND THE WORLD. You've LOST my support, my brother’s support and the support of everybody that we engage on the subject . . . and we engage a lot of people (wave the pamphlet).

So WE are NOT going to help. We will NOT contribute. Given that you are now known as much as a family destroying cult leader… Molyneux laughed as did his minions in the audience and Molyneux did his standard I don’t drug, kidnap, I am just a podcaster shtick..Rob was quite upset that Molyneux laughed at our family’s pain, but he kept his focus.. Rob Responded with the comment that we don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t a fish. All cult members believe they are NOT in a cult.
But .. given that you are an empiricist and willing to look at data and results . . . To use a technique you’ve employed, do you think maybe, you might try something different. How about this for an idea, Rather than creating hatred for the movement, maybe the kids could bring their parents along.

Perhaps YOUR childhood experience shouldn’t be projected on those MORE fortunate . . .

Here’s my question Stefan. Should you consider HOW you offer advice to people on their relationships so as not to destroy their families and lose the support of those who would otherwise be on OUR side?

Rob did not do it exactly as written. He did it a little better. Rob described the three legs of authoritarian rule (govt, church, family). Rob then said Molyneux had destroyed a successful family. At one point, Molyneux’s minions started getting restless. The moderator tried to grab the mike. Then a few people yelled out to let him speak and Rob was allowed to complete his question. Molyneux was clearly flustered.
He and Rob did a little back and forth and in the end, Molyneux cracked. Rob cornered him with facts and Molyneux’s who is usually able to wiggle out of a direct lie by using words that have a way out, missed the mark. Rob said that Molyneux recommends that kids leave their families. Molyneux vociferously said, “I have never recommended that anyone leave their family.” Whoops. Here is Molyneux directly from his own FDR chat room log. This is the exact Molyneux Quote to someone leaning against a defoo: Snidely, get off the goddamned fence and get rid of your family. Or this one, to someone not sure what to do because of financial concerns: Don't give me that. My brother and I kicked my mom out when I was 15. I took 3 jobs and roommates to survive. Do it. Send the email. Start living
In my observation of things, there were two more identifiable fabrications.

He says he does not do therapy on line. “I’m just a podcaster,” he said. You decide if this is true. I have listened to his call in podcasts. It is a complete corruption of therapy but it is therapy. He has even invented at least one of his own therapy techniques (google: MECOsystem).

When my brother said he takes donations for increased access, Molyneux once again got agitated. He down played the donation aspect of things. He suggests he does not aggressively solicit donations or that “anyone can talk to me.” Is this a lie? What is aggressive? What does it mean that ‘anyone can talk to me’? You can stand on a street corner in Omaha and talk to anyone. When was the last time a non Paying FDR member was able to pour their heart out on a Sunday call in show? Are non-paying members even allowed to listen to the show? I don’t really know the answer to that. Maybe Molyneux uses the show as a promotional event to attract donators. Here are a few transcriptions from podcasts and written material from the FDR site. You decide.

In this podcast: FDR348: Escaping Your Family Step By Step - Part 2
(20:00 Stef gives example of his defoo talk with his family
35:00 describes the letter about taking a break from the family

Then this beauty:
44:40 “Please send me a donation... it will make it a lot easier for you to confront your parents if you're acting with good integrity in your life in general.”

Or this posted on June 29, 2009, (a week before the debate in Philadelphia)
"Hello, to all new and existing listeners, if you have not donated in a while -- or shockingly, not at all! -- Freedomain Radio really does need your support, for instance in helping to pay for the trip to Philadelphia for the 'clash of the titans' debate!

Molyneux’s opponent in the debate was the former Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Mike Badnarik. He did not know what hit him. I think he thought he was going to be discussing constitutional nuances and its failure as a governing document. He really could not even follow Molyneux’s silliness in his discussions of how and why the creation of the United States Constitution led directly to (among other things) the atrocities of NAZI Germany. Or that a power mad tyrant would not be interested in invading or dominating a piece of anarchist geography because it did not have an existing tax structure. As if Stalin or Hitler, or Castro or Mao or Tojo or some other unknown sociopathic thug, would decide not to enslave us because we did not have an established stream of tax revenues. Molyneux went on to say with a lot of flair and insistence that there is no such thing as ‘Rights.’ Later there was a truly surreal moment. Molyneux was saying with all the certainty of a man who was reading yesterday’s news that a fantasy anarchistic creation (the Dispute Resolution Organization) was impossible to corrupt because they would have to meet their customers’ needs. Poor Badnarik was looking at Molyneux like he had three heads and was speaking Urdu.

Now on a personal note, you will notice that I did very little during the day. My family (Ralph is family) came to my aid. They came to support me. There was nothing in it for them except that. I have found that I have a little trouble sustaining a discussion on this matter without some emotion getting the best of me. I was going to ask the question that my brother asked, but every time I tried to read it, I could not get past the second sentence. When I said I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off, Rob grabbed the question and said he sure isn’t going to run over me. He took that duty. He raised his hand. He took the microphone. He took on the hecklers. He held off the moderator. He dove in on Molyneux and beat him. Judi said I will greet my nephew and look for Molyneux to talk to him if I can. She did. She was threatened with violence and she stood up. Ralph knew he would have to deal with angry Molyneux supporters but he took the duty. In short, my family came through. I love all three of them. I would say I am in their debt, but I am not. They are family. I love them and they love me. Some day they will need me. And I will be there for them. I am damn sure that is what a family is all about.

I have always appreciated that my son is an adult. That he will have to find his own way. I have moved a little further along on that continuum. In the course of this horrible time, I have come to learn a great deal about Molyneux. Having that knowledge makes a difference. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Now that I know who Molyneux is and what he does, I can no longer do ‘nothing.’ I can stop some of it. I can and will prevent other families from suffering. I can and will warn unsuspecting victims so they know what they can expect when they hit that dark web site. We did not show up at the debate to force the issue with my son. We were there to expose Molyneux to potential victims.

It mean it when I say that if I can prevent one family from encountering the pain our family has endured (my son included), then I will have accomplished something useful and important. I have no doubt about what we did that on Sunday. It felt good and right.

So while it isn’t about (as Molyneux put it) “the boy.” I confess I see how this effort may bring some victims back into society. Somewhere inside the victims there are likely intelligent, caring and perceptive young adults. If they have a chance to see the truth, they may come to decide that FDR is not where they want to be. If so, this is a great result. If not they are no worse off and others will be warned.

The point is this. Our goal is no longer is to try to persuade our son to come home. The goal is to define and explain Stefan Molyneux to those he can damage. Anyone who knows FDR has the power to save a family. Who knows? Maybe Molyneux will change his ways. He has a child himself now. His wife may not be quite so supportive of destroying families for fun and profit. Maybe we can persuade him to reconsider his own self interest. Maybe he can learn to live without fulfilling his narcissistic need to have sycophantic callers fawning over his every comment and observation whether it makes sense or not. Maybe he can see past his own narcissistic version of life. Which is this: I found freedom by overcoming a horrible childhood. I can help others find their way by persuading them that they had a horrible childhood that they too can overcome. Perhaps it will be more mundane. Maybe he finally tells one too many lies in response to our questions and his victims will notice. Maybe they will start to question him. Once that happens maybe he will discard them or they will see the truth.

I have a good life. A beautiful, funny and loving wife. I have a very good job. My duty to my wife and to my adult daughter her will continue to take priority. But the next time Molyneux shows his face in a public forum I will affect how it goes. I will seek media exposure. I will do all that can be done to impede the damage he will be trying to do to happy and healthy families. I am sure there are other things that can be done. The good news is that it will be easy. He has contradicted himself so much with his own words and deeds, that it really is pretty easy by now to shine the light of truth on him. And it will get easier as the program ramps up and we get more efficient. As you help his victims and potential victims see the light, you will feel good about it.

If you have any good documented Molyneux hypocrisy or your own story of Molyneux, feel free to post it at a new site. To be sure, we are looking for specific factual things along these lines:

Defoo (we need to stop using Molyneux's language, but I am making exception here) with no notice – Names are not necessary, otherwise be as specific as you can

Documented Molyneux events where he persuades caller, chat room person to defoo

If you care to, to sign up at FDR as a new member and notice how you are treated. SM says You don’t need to identify yourself. Keep the log and post it here, especially if you notice you are being pushed to podcasts about crappy parenting and such.


  1. I was a devoted listener to FDR podcasts. I even contributed. I became less interested when so much of the content devolved to amateur psychology. Long conversations with sad young people usually including demeaning exchanges ending in one dimensional analyses and harmful recommendations are primary fare. I would have just stopped listening if my nephew hadn't been sucked in. It's too bad because he is a brilliant person. He hasn't met the man worthy of leading him.

  2. Thank you for creating this blog. I'd never heard of FDR until my son defood 1 1/2 years ago. He had written on his blog about Stefan Molyneux before he left. I looked him up and discovered the podcasts regarding parents. I found that Molyneux is of the opinion that there are no good parents and I knew what had happened. It's helpful to read other parents perspective and to see that we have had a very similar experience. I know we had a good relationship with our son until Molyneux got ahold of him. I hope that someday he will see that. They are looking for happiness and they seem sadder everyday.

  3. perfection, perfection, perfection. keep fighting!

  4. yes, Edmund Burke.......excellent example of conservatism........
    evil can only triumph when good men do nothing......The perfect moniker for your blog.
    .....Keep that sword up against the beast!

  5. I applaud you for creating this blog. I have thought that this would be a good thing for parents-- a place to come together and share stories. Molyneux has affected so many lives with his ideas. It continues to anger me when I hear him continually state that he does not tell his followers to leave their families. He pushes them to the edge where those actual words coming from his mouth aren't even necessary. What a crafty bastard! First lie. Then he claims he encourages a truthful conversation within the family. Second lie. Our family missed that one--we are still stunned over what has happened. Where is the truth?

  6. I do not like moyneux very much for obvious reasons as our child has been gone a year. So to hear someone got the better of him in a public place is good news to us. It must take nerves of steel, but do please keep it up.

  7. It is so unfortunate that people fall for Stefan Molyneux.
    After watching a few podcasts on youtube, I concluded the following:
    1-His social, political and economic thought merely rehashes past anarcho-capitalist ideas.
    2-His amateur psychology/therapy is just pathetic.

  8. Glad to find your blog on Molyneuex. 'SM' is right--This guy is filled with self loathing and wants young people everywhere to suffer as he does. He sucks them in with shiny arguments on libertarianism and anarchy, then strikes with his venomous attacks on FOO. Our 19-year-old son is on the brink of swallowing this creep's line. Our hope is that our son is intelligent enough (which he is) to ultimately see through this crap before he deFOO's. We have challenged him (our son) by asking him if he is 'afraid' to look into criticisms of Molyneux---one of SM's own tactics. This two-bit con artist uses classic cult-induction would be a joke if it weren't for the thousands of naive youngsters who haven't lived long enough to know that Molyneux is just one more in the global parade of fraudulent, sociopathic hucksters who leave a wake of damaged and even destroyed lives. His psyhotic lack of conscience is beyond disturbing, to say the least. This guy must and will be stopped. He is so narcissistic that he can't help publishing comments that reveal his contemptuous and insidious motives. Don't get me started, please! Enough said.
    Anon in California

  9. My prayers and the prayers of my family are that people like you will bring this pathetic Molyneux down. Anon in MN