So, that happened.
The debate between Matt Binder (from the Majority Report) and Paul Elam (from A Pile of Money for Paul Elam) went off yesterday. I can’t say it went off without a hitch, because it was actually quite hitch-full. Indeed, it was kind of a disaster — at least for one Paul Elam.
Paul’s the one who wanted the debate. He chose the topic, he chose the format, he controlled the venue. And he lost the debate rather spectacularly, grimly reading a succession of prepared statements while Binder shot down his arguments with common-sensical one-lines and raised issues that Elam didn’t or couldn’t address.
Binder rattled Elam early by presenting him with an unattributed quote that sounded virtually identical to Elliot Rodger’s misogynistic rants and which Elam dismissed as something that no MRA would ever say; Binder then revealed that it was a quote from Stefan Molyneux, the MRA “philosopher” who was one of the featured speakers at AVFM’s recent conference. (Indeed, it was a quote that I highlighted in my first Misogyny Theater videos on Mr. M.)
Then, after Elam read off a list of all the various women who have associated themselves in some way with AVFM, Binder knocked the wind out of him by asking, quite simply, so what?
The most surreal moment, in a debate full of surreal moments, came 39 minutes into the debate. Binder had spent much of his previous two segments discussing an assortment of issues that the Men’s Rights movement largely ignores, even though they primarily affect men, and men of color in particular — from stop and frisk policies in major cities to the deaths of American soldiers in wars overseas.
But instead of answering Binder’s question –why hasn’t the Men’s Rights movement actually tried to do something about these problems? — Elam instead read his prepared “closing statement,” responding not to anything Binder had argued but to the arguments Elam, writing the statement before the debate, had assumed he would make.
And so, after hearing Binder passionately argue that the MRM needs to fight for the rights of men in prison and for the lives of men sent to fight and possibly die in wars, we heard Elam beating away on a straw man, declaring — after calling him a bigot — that Binder
has been led to believe, quite falsely, that gender justice mandates the summary rejection of all men’s problems in favor of a view that can only see men as the problem.
The debate, such as it was, lurched to its conclusion in an assortment of miscues and technical glitches a few minutes later. Dean Esmay, the incompetent and often ineffectual “moderator” of the debate, rocking back and forth on his chair in a darkened room, eyes mostly closed, plaintively asked Binder to send him “that particular story” on stop and frisk in New York city that Binder had referred to earlier in the debate. Esmay, defensive and exasperated, explained that
we are an all-volunteer organization and we don’t see every story. I’d like to see that story from Matt, please do send it to me.
Binder, incredulous, pointed out that stop and frisk has been in the headlines for years, as Esmay, visible in a small box at the bottom of the screen, rubbed his head as though he were developing a migraine. Esmay repeated his request, saying that
we cover a lot of stories; I’m just asking for you to send me that.
There were then a few uncomfortable moments as Esmay and Elam tried to figure out how to close down the Google Hangout that was hosting the debate.
Esmay: “Are we off?”
Binder: “Still says ‘live’ for me.”
Elam: “Yeah, I’m still having problem with the button.”
Elam: “Isn’t that wonderful?”
Long silence. Esmay rocks back and forth on his chair.
Esmay: “Just close the window.”
A few moments later, he did.
I think we may need to have another AVFM graphics contest, incorporating what I think should be AVFM’s new slogans:
“I’m still having problem with the button.”
“We are an all-volunteer organization and we don’t see every story.”
A Voice for Men is clearly not ready for its closeup.