To: Penny Hicks, publisher, Maclean’s Magazine:
Recently, one of your writers, Mika Rekai, wrote an article, Men’s Rights Attracts Angry Young Men, focusing on the Men’s Human Rights Movement and in part on my website avoiceformen.com (AVFM).
There were numerous factual errors that demand a retraction on your part, which I would like to share with you now. Please understand that I am aware that it is common in the media to selectively use the most hyperbolic and inflammatory quotes that it is possible to find, as though they represent the mainstay of a targeted group’s thought, but I am not complaining about that.
My concerns are strictly over the misquoted, misattributed and misrepresented content that permeated Rekai’s article and resulting in a piece that was misleading and journalistically unsound.
First there is this, regarding some content at AVFM:
“…one of the most prominent features of the blog are the pictures of dangerous “bigots”—most of whom are young, female university students who have protested at men’s rights events on campuses.”
This is factually untrue, as at the time most of the pictures in that area of the site were not of college students. Also of concern is that Rekai neglected to mention AVFM’s rationale for why the students images were there, which was because they were known to have engaged in illegal efforts to harass, abuse and abridge the free speech of other students at a university lecture on the issues for which we advocate.
Rekai, I believe, attempts to leave an impression in the mind of the reader that these women were targeted for simply protesting against a men’s rights event, which is inaccurate and which was meticulously covered in my interview with her.
Next Rekai says the following:
“…Elam says that being able to talk about being angry at women, hating women and even beating women on sites like A Voice for Men provides a lot of hurt men the ability to vent emotionally in a supportive environment, so they don’t have to express their anger physically.”
This is completely untrue. As I said more than once in my (recorded) interview with Rekai, men being able to express anger about what has happened to them, regarding false allegations, family courts and the like, is needed and healthy, but as I also stressed to Rekai, we work diligently with anyone whose anger appears inappropriate and draw the line more rigidly than any other internet venue I know of at any speech that glorifies or justifies physical violence.
This mischaracterization of my words is deeply concerning to me and very misleading to your readers.
Next, Rekai references YouTube videos that were embedded on AVFM after an event in Toronto where feminists harassed attendees and otherwise attempted to disrupt another lecture on men’s issues:
“After a similar men’s rights event, organized by CAFE in April, there was a similar clash of protesters, and afterwards A Voice for Men posted a video from the event. In the clip, a red-haired woman is reading an article about the shared goals of feminism and men’s rights, while swearing at those who interrupted her. The video quickly reached over 100,000 views; hundreds of comments flooded in from men’s rights activists, threatening to beat, rape and murder the woman in the video.”
I trust Ms. Rekai is not actually convinced that every anonymous, malicious person on the internet is a men’s activist. While there were some (far from hundreds) of comments that might be construed as threats, is it the position of Mika Rekai and Maclean’s Magazine that they can identify the gender ideology of the people making them? Where is the supporting documentation, the identity of the commenters and the evidence that they indeed are activists?
Isn’t it journalistically irresponsible to gather anonymous comments from an internet website and directly attribute them to an identified group with no proof whatsoever to back it up? Was there no editor at Maclean’s to oversee fact-checking before this went to print?
It is clear to me that assigning culpability to the Men’s Human Rights Movement for anonymous threats made on the internet is more than just a misleading error in judgment. It is an intentional bit of smoke and mirrors designed to mischaracterize a group of social activists as violent and abusive in the absence of evidence to support it.
There were several other issues with the piece. For instance, I found it troubling that Rekai made numerous references to the protests at the University of Toronto, and attempted to detail the angry reaction of men’s activists to events, but for some reason Rekai failed to mention that at those events there was an organized, self-identified feminist presence that was vandalizing posters, tripping fire alarms, harassing attendees by screaming epithets at them, physically blocking doors so that attendees could not enter and engaging in violence on a level that required police intervention.
This was a piece of agenda journalism at its worst.
I would appreciate your consideration of the contents of this message and your taking the time to fact-check what I have said. I hope that you will subsequently issue a retraction of the multiple mistakes in this article.
I also hope that you will speak with Ms. Rekai about some basics in journalistic principles, as so many of them were not observed in her work.
Paul Elam, publisher, avoiceformen.com