Awards Dinner: Presentation to the International Conference on Men’s Issues 2014

Editorial note: We will over the next few weeks continue to present full transcripts of all the presentations at the International Conference on Men’s Issues 2014. The following is not one of our formal presentations exactly, but was a brief Awards Dinner on the night of Day 1, June 27, 2014. Special thanks were given out to the VFW and an award was given to one of the most important figures to the Men’s Human Rights Movement and, indeed, to the world at large.—DE

(Clip 1: Robert O’Hara)

First of all, I want to thank the VFW for allowing us to be here today. This would not have happened … these people really came through for us. They’ve been extremely, extremely accommodating, and very nice, and they’ve really just been very wonderful to work with. There’s not a single problem. I’m glad we had it here rather than at the DoubleTree, to be totally honest with you. It’s just been really great.

And of course, we have to thank our sponsors:, who made this happen, who was very, very instrumental in making this happen. A great supporter there,

Of course, the Honey Badger Brigade, who have joined us today, please give them a big hand. They’re just a great, great addition to the Men’s Rights Movement. They really are wonderful people, and they’ve done incredible work.

Of course, Aaron Clarey, who’s not with us today—Is Aaron with us? No. He’s not with us today, but he is also a sponsor. Please think about buying one of his books, and of course—Bachelor Pad Economics. Buy that book. Got great reviews—I haven’t read it yet, but it’s gotten great reviews; and he’s a wonderful thinker, a wonderful guy. Of course, he contributed to this.

And I just want to say, before we get started, I don’t think anybody here is lost on the enormity of the historical significance of what has happened today, and yesterday, and what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re making history here, and everybody’s here because they want to be here, and everybody that’s here has made a sacrifice to be here. It’s not like anybody’s got their company paying for it. It’s not like somebody’s got their school paying for it. The people that are here, the people that are sitting next to you right now, are a special breed of people, just like you. And now is our time—right now, we’re having dinner right now; now is our time to break bread together, and to get to know each other, and to build contact with each other in a way that we’ve never been able to do before, or haven’t done before. And let’s make this the first of many, many more occasions, when we and people like us get together and have fun and talk about the future.

So, with that, I’d like to invite Tim, Commander Tim, up—is he here? Oh, okay … I’ll stretch it out … I’ll stretch it out. Okay, let’s see here … Oh, I’m sorry, I thought he was ready—I’m sorry, I should have talked with you first. He’s on his way? Okay. Anyway—now I’m going to have to improvise. Anyway—oh, I’m going to talk about the speakers now. The speakers—definitely, we’ve had an incredible list of speakers joining us today. I mean, I cannot believe that we got the powerhouse of speakers that we’ve had come with us today, and please, extend your thanks again in thanking them for being here.

And anyway, I want to bring this up—please take the opportunity, I know that we all came with our own—sorry. I know that we all came with our own groups and everything, and that, you know, I really want to hang out as much as I can with James today; I just met him for the first time yesterday, you know. But take this opportunity to talk with people, maybe, that you’ve never talked to before, or never had a Skype conversation with; someone that you’re a stranger with. Because that’s very important, to mingle. And again, this is what events like this are for … Is Commander Tim here yet? I’m running out of stuff to say.

(“He’s in the car show here.”)

Oh, he is? (Darn that car show …) Oh, and by the way, I’m going to go check out the car show, if they’re still around after … because that Barracuda was really cool, man. That was really cool.

But anyway, I guess we’ll wait until Commander Tim comes, and maybe after the dinner we’ll do that?—Okay. So, everyone, please, enjoy your meal. Thank you very much.

(Clip 2: Robert O’Hara)

… Commander of the VFW post here, please, everybody give him a big hand. Very, very (inaudible) … Again, please, thank you.

Commander Tim, we have something very special to give to this VFW post. Paul, will you come forward, please? Paul, do you have any remarks for Tim?

(Paul Elam:) Just that … the appreciation Bob has already expressed for the Commander; and I want to take the opportunity to let everybody know that A Voice for Men will be donating an additional $2,000 to this VFW post, for their standing by us, and to help veterans who come here.

(Tim Litz, Commander:) Everyone here is welcome to be here, and when we were contacted that they needed a place to have this convention … we never said no. You were coming here; no problem. Glad to have you here!

(Paul Elam:) Thank you very much … thank you.

(Robert O’Hara:) Okay, so … like I said, they’re going to call tables …

(Clip 3: Robert O’Hara)

So, are you going to take care of this? Okay.

(Paul Elam takes microphone and ascends to the stage.)

(Paul Elam:) Ladies and gentlemen … ladies and gentlemen, can I get your attention for a moment, please? … Don’t make me get the Security Director.

Ladies and gentlemen, could I get your attention for just a moment, please? A little special occasion here that we would like you all to see, and we’re sure you’re going to enjoy it. Dean Esmay, our Operations Manager for A Voice for Men.

(Dean Esmay:) Thank you. It is said that all idols have feet of clay. What this statement means is that whenever you prop up a person like a statue, like they’re pristine and perfect and belong on a pedestal, then inevitably, when that person shows a flaw, the bronze or marble statue of them in our minds comes crashing down, as if the feet of the statue were soft and weak and made of clay.

When we see a person who we idolize, and we find a flaw in them, suddenly we’re shocked. But whose fault was that? The person idolized, or those of us who put them on that pedestal to come crashing down from in the first place? When the human idol falls, it is rarely they who really fell. It was the foolish image we had of them as something other than human that falls.

So, tonight, I want to talk to you about a flawed, imperfect human being. Starting from a troubled, violent childhood, as an adult this person lived a life of scandal and outrage; frequently breaking the law; getting into fights even with cops—in fact, I read somewhere that she once drove a cop right out of her house, screaming, “Fuck you!”—while she was busy inserting herself into affairs that others said were none of her damn business. Broke up many a marriage, this woman did, to the scandal of ministers, priests, and rabbis, and the community at large. Respectable citizens were appalled by her outrageous behavior. She was bad with money, she was constantly on the move, and everywhere she went, people hated her.

She went through the pattern that so many imperfect people go through, with more than one failed marriage, and children who often wondered what the hell she was all about. Fleeing her native land, she came to the United States, only to be so disgusted by the political climate here that she left again and gave up a chance at American citizenship.

I’d been hearing about this scandalous woman for many years, wondering what she was really like. A few years ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to talk to her. She’d more-or-less retired from public life, and it was an elusive hunt to find her, even in this age of Internet connections. She had a website with contact information on it, but no phone number or street address. There was an email address, and I sent emails to what was on that website; and letter after letter went unanswered. The emails went nowhere. I looked to see if she was on Skype. I’m on Skype all the time; and I found no less than three such persons with that name—and none of them would accept my contact requests.

Finally, in my Internet stalkerish ways, I stumbled upon her Facebook and with a little timidity sent her a friend request. I’m not sure, but I think I sent it a couple of times. Finally, one day, out of the blue, I got a note that she’d accepted—“Huzzah!” I cried. I had made the connection. Little did I know … I sent her my first Facebook message, asking for an interview, and she didn’t respond. I sent her another, saying, “I want an interview,” and she said, “No problem, just email me through my website.”

So I emailed again … no answer … no answer … I messaged her on Facebook and said email wasn’t working. She must have been busy or something, so I Facebooked her again and pleaded, “Your email address from your website doesn’t seem to work.” So she just shot back with, “Well, why don’t you just Skype me, then?”

This woman was starting to get on my nerves.

But to make a long story short … finally, we got that sorted, and the Skype connection was made with this scandalous, imperfect human being, and a friendship began.

I want to tell you something about this imperfect person because she is, in fact, my idol; and in my eyes she could never have feet of clay because she has always had human feet. I can’t say I know all her imperfections, but I do know she is imperfect. Like all of us, she is flawed, she is human; she has made mistakes in her life, and she will almost certainly keep making them, and keep scandalizing and upsetting people for many years to come.

It is thus, with … and knowing all of this about her, I can say she is possibly the most “human” human being I have ever known. And were I to live a thousand years, I don’t think I could meet anyone that I was prouder to say I was friends with than this flawed human being who bulled her way through life not letting anyone or anything get in the way of her quest to help the battered, the bloody, the neglected, the forgotten, the reviled, find their own ways back to humanity, not caring who she offended while she was doing it.

It is thus with great pleasure that I present a Lifetime Achievement Award to my flawed, imperfect, very human friend; and with her permission, we will give out this same award every year, in her name, with her to be the first recipient. Regardless of that, I want to present this award, for a lifetime of achievement and dedication to shedding light on the bane of family violence; for the single-handed forging of the Women’s Shelter Movement in 1971, and for conducting years of valuable research and education; for standing by the truth, alone and in the face of hatred, ignorance, and ideological corruption; for educating and inspiring so many to push forward with evidence-based advocacy, and for decades of unyielding compassion for those on the margins of a society led astray; for showing equal compassion for men and boys, and refusing ever to cooperate in demonizing them; for the continuing struggle to bring about changes desperately needed, ensuring domestic violence concerns are inclusive of men as well as women, and particularly children; and for, against all odds, keeping the truth alive long enough to bring it to those who might listen and carry it forward.

I would like to present this Lifetime Achievement Award to A Voice for Men’s Editor-At-Large and advisor on domestic violence policy, my friend, Erin Pizzey.

(Erin Pizzey:) Okay, then all sit down … get on with your supper, and let me just say one thing: The fight goes on.

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