The author of this week’s guest post is freelance, investigative reporter Michael Volpe. Michael is based out of Chicago and the author of two books, Prosecutors Gone Wild and The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers. His current project is a book based on Chris Mackney, a father who committed suicide in late 2013 after a long and chaotic Custody War over his two young children. This week’s post is an excerpt from Michael’s book about Chris Mackney. Please give Michael a warm welcome to the Cappuccino Queen community.
At the end of January 2014, Mackney’s suicide note was removed from his website, Good Men Did Nothing. Chris Mackney’s note first resurfaced on the website of Henry Makow in February 2014.
Makow lives in Canada. He gained fame in the 1980s with his board game, Scruples. He has since gone on to become a conspiracy theorist believing that the world is controlled by Jewish banking interests and the illuminati. Those who subscribe to such conspiracy theories view the family courts as an extension of a feminist takeover. As such, he is interested in any family court corruption, at least against males.
Though Makow is part of a fringe movement, he has thousands of followers, and as a result, the note’s initial run created some buzz.
From there, it was published on about fifteen websites throughout the months of February, March and April of 2014.
The run was driven by the so-called fringe, or more kindly counter culture movement. In fact, from the beginning, movements which believe in conspiracies like the illuminati, a feminist take over, and other conspiracies have had an insatiable appetite for Mackney’s suicide note. This is especially true of the Men’s Rights Movement which turned Chris Mackney’s suicide into a cause celebre after the website, A Voice For Men, publicly challenged Dina Mackney’s copyright notice.
Though the MRM has made Mackney into a cause celebre, he wasn’t necessarily a believer in their world view. No longer in a position to give permission, Mackney had become attached to a movement viewed by many as extreme. As an example, here’s one comment following an Imgur.com post on his suicide. “The association with MRAs (Men’s Right’s Associations) and AVFM has seriously undermined my ability to believe this guy’s story.”
The Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) was originally started as an answer to feminism, which it viewed as trying to punish the male species today for prior injustices against women, real and imagined. In its most extreme form, it is misogyny of the highest order. The extreme elements of the MRM are led by a man named Peter Andrew Nolan, who runs the site Crimes Against Fathers. Nolan is a victim of family court abuse in Australia who now lives in Europe. He regularly advocates violence saying this to me on Facebook, “If men cared about men someone else would have killed Dina Mackney and do Chris the favor. I have long told men that if they cared about each other they would watch each other’s backs.” Nolan attempted to justify his call for murder by suggesting that there is a war against men in family courts, and this is a legitimate response to war.
His website published some of the most extreme and inflammatory statements against Dina Mackney after her news of her copyright notice went public, calling her a “man hating bitch” and publishing most Dina Mackney’s personal information: her office address, Twitter handle, Facebook page, Linked In page, and other personal information.
Publishing personal information about women he dislikes is nothing new for Nolan. In 2013, Nolan revealed the name of a female Ohio University student who he believed had filed a false sexual assault claim, publishing personal details like her name, phone number, street address, and email. The student he identified turned out to be the wrong individual, not to mention that it’s far from clear that the sexual assault allegation is false, and the female student was forced to go into hiding and even dropping out of school that semester.
In a Buzzfeed article on the controversy, Nolan was unapologetic saying that even if the woman “goes out tomorrow and buys a gun and blows her head off that’s not a problem for me. I’m prepared to say that in the public,” he said to Buzzfeed. “Now the reason I’m prepared to say that in the public is because I’m reflecting back the exact same attitude that it would be if it were a man.”
People like Nolan likely did more harm than good in regards to spreading Mackney’s story. “They (sites like Nolan’s) discredited themselves (with their rhetoric)” Jill Peterson Mitchell told. (Jill Peterson Mitchell is a friend of Mackney’s whose ex-husband is now dating Chris’s ex-wife)
Hera McLeod runs a site called Cappuccino Queen, in which she details her own nightmare in family court. On May 21, 2014, she published an article on Mackney’s suicide and she made the same point. “Upon googling Chris’ name to find out the details of his death, I noticed many websites that have attempted to exploit and twist his story in an attempt to make it appear as though it was something that it was not.”
The more mainstream elements of the MRM center on the website A Voice For Men (AVFM) which is run by Paul Elam, a man I’ve come to know and work with in relation to this story. Elam has been criticized for writing a blog post in 2010 which his critics say he made light of rape, and even encouraged others to commit the act. Elam has repeatedly countered that the post was a piece of “provocative satire”. In June 2014, Elam and AVFM hosted the first International Conference on Men’s Issue. Local feminists protested the conference so vociferously that it needed to be moved from the Double Tree Hotel in Detroit to a Veteran of Foreign War facility in the suburbs. Despite the controversy, or possibly because of it, the conference was covered by most mainstream media, with stories appearing on Fox News Channel, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, Salon, and others. AVFM condemned Nolan as an extremist in a blog post in May 2014.
I’ve personally found Elam, like Henry Makow, to be honest and professional in my own dealings with them, while I found Nolan to be frightening. Furthermore, though I believe that both Makow and Elam have a very specific agenda when it comes to this story, I’ve found they want the whole truth to be told, and as evidence, they were both willing to highlight and detail the 1960s murder for hire by Dina Mackney’s father, Pete Scamardo.
Outside of the MRM, such folks are often viewed as extremists. As an example the so-called Manosphere, a loose collection of blogs and other websites, has been blamed by Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center for the shooting massacre perpetrated by Elliot Rodger at University of California at Santa Barbara because these website often become a forum for men to take their frustrations out on individual women and the female race in general. This was a dubious and inflammatory charge given that three of Rodger’s six victims were male and his long history of mental illness but shows just how extreme many view the MRM.
Elam told me that rather than a fringe or extremist movement, the MRM is a form of counter culture.
When the far left website, Raw Story, picked up the saga on May 2, 2014, the comments section turned into a screaming match between feminists and father’s rights activists with each side calling the other extremists.
So, now extend that same perspective to Chris Mackney’s story. If his story is a cause celebre to the MRM, then by extension, he must become a villain in the world of the feminists. One can see a microcosm of that in the Raw Story article where a feminist using the handle Sharon Armstrong, possibly a pseudonym, repeatedly defends Dina Mackney’s actions, attacks Chris Mackney, and at one point even attacks Marc Randazzo (the first amendment attorney who defended AVFM against the copyright infringement filed by Dina Mackney’s attorney) referring to him as “man hating.”
MRM activists blistered Ms. Armstrong suggesting she was stupid and a man hater. The name calling between Armstrong and the MRM activists mirrored those which can be found in most arguments, on the internet and otherwise, between liberals and conservatives. (Armstrong’s comments have since been removed by Raw Story)
Whatever the analysis of the MRM or the feminist movement, Chris Mackney had nothing to do with either of them. Some called him a father’s rights or family court reform activist but that’s strictly because he started Good Men Did Nothing. Chris Mackney no more believed in the illuminati than I believe in the illuminati. Furthermore, while father’s rights groups claim the proverbial deck is stacked against men in family court, Mackney reached out both women and men for help.
While both feminists and the MRM believe that the family court system is corrupt and biased, but disagree on which gender is on the receiving end of the bias, Chris Mackney had no time for such philosophical debates. All he was looking to do was find someone, anyone, who would help him.
Hera McLeod, in the same May post, echoed this sentiment.
The very fact that Chris had asked to work with me shows that he was not a man trying to tie himself with an anti-women’s movement or speak out against mothers. From what I knew of Chris through our conversations, he was a man who was trying to survive the horrible legal abuse he was enduring. He was trying to find a way to get back into his children’s lives. He was trying to navigate a broken system.
None of those things have much to do with gender politics.
(DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this piece are that of the author, Michael Volpe, and don’t necessarily reflect that of Cappuccino Queen.)