Is A Voice for Men using phony “death threats” allegedly directed at those planning to attend its upcoming “Men’s Issues” conference in Detroit, as well as upon employees and guests of the hotel where it’s scheduled to be held, as an excuse to smear feminists and raise a quick $25,000 in donations from readers and possibly even from a handful of gullible feminists?
As incredible as that sounds, that’s what some people I respect are saying. Despite AVFM’s history of lying about alleged feminist threats – you may recall John Hembling’s infamous confrontation with an imaginary mob of 20-30 feminists brandishing boxcutters – I’m not willing to go that far.
But there’s a lot about the story that makes no sense, and some big questions that need convincing answers.
1) The Doubletree Fort Shelby hotel has not confirmed that the letter Paul Elam posted on his site several days ago, and which he has now removed, actually came from them. The letter is, so far, the only evidence that there were any threats.
Hotel management needs to confirm whether or not they sent this letter to Elam.
2) Both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press spoke to Detroit Police spokesman Adam Madera, who told them that the police had not received any reports of death threats from the hotel. He told both papers that hotel staff had asked about hiring off-duty officers for security but hadn’t specified why.
Hotel management needs to confirm either that 1) they got death threats and didn’t report them or 2) that they got no such threats. They should also confirm whether their calls about off-duty police officers were related to the “Men’s Issues” conference.
There are a few other clues that support the “hoax” theory, though they’re far from definitive:
Several people who have allegedly contacted the hotel to ask about the threat say that the managers they spoke to knew nothing about the threats. Even if these reports are true, this may not be significant; managers may not have been told about threats related to a conference many weeks off.
The Detroit News also spoke to the owner of the hotel, and he said he was unaware of any threats. That may not be significant either; he may simply be out of the loop.
Essentially, we’re waiting for the Doubletree Fort Shelby management to answer these questions. If you look at the news coverage so far you’ll notice that the hotel staffers who can answer these questions don’t seem to be answering their phones or returning calls. I left a message for them today as well. No reply yet.
The other bits of evidence we’re waiting for? Well, the letter Elam claims he got from hotel management says that he and the other conference organizers need to send the hotel proof that they’ve hired the required number of Detroit police officers to handle security, as well as proof that they have also paid for at least $2 million in liability insurance. They have to have this done by the 6th.
In light of all the questions still swirling around, I think people are going to want to see this proof too.
It may be that the hotel comes forward and confirms that the letter was real, that the threats were real, and that indeed A Voice for Men does have to shell out $25,000 for extra security. It may even be the case that it was a feminist or a group of feminists making the threats. But we don’t know. And right now the people who do know are either not talking — or they have pretty much no credibility. Let’s hope the silence ends soon, because there’s no way the not-so-good folks at AVFM are suddenly going to turn credible overnight.
EDIT: I toned down some of the language, which I think was detracting from my main points, and added a new final paragraph.
EDIT 2: Removed some speculation. We’ll know some of the answers soon enough; no need to speculate.
UPDATE: DOUBLETREE STATEMENT
So I’ve heard back from Atiya Frederick, the PR Manager for Embassy Suites Hotels & DoubleTree, and she’s made clear that the hotel won’t be answering specific questions about any of this just yet. Here’s what she sent me.
At this time we are confining our comments on this matter to the below statement …
Hilton Worldwide strives to operate meeting places for people from all walks of life, regardless of beliefs, race, color, national origin, religion or sexual orientation. The views of our guests do not reflect the sentiment of Hilton Worldwide. As places of public accommodation, our hotels do not discriminate against any individual or group. Our goal is to provide quality accommodations and a pleasant environment for our guests, employees and members of our community . We would like to emphasize that we strive to be an inclusive company and regret if this policy has unintentionally offended any individual or organization.
This statement seems to be their standard response when they host a conference by a controversial group.