One Bloggers Attempt To Socially Murder Cultural Leader Marc Gafni: How To Manufacture A Sex Scandal
In late December 2015, Marc Gafni, a prominent figure in the Evolutionary Spirituality scene, became the target of a carefully orchestrated smear campaign. While the story itself has not drawn much attention outside of the relatively small new-age/ new-thought community, it serves as a classic example of how digital journalism (blogging) can be and is used in the post-truth/ post-fact era to publicly shame, bully, and disseminate lies across the web.
Why should you care about this?
“In the post-truth era, borders blur between truth and lies, honesty and dishonesty, fiction and nonfiction. Deceiving others becomes a challenge, a game, and ultimately a habit.” — Ralph Keyes
If you’re like me, you might be thinking to yourself, “This is interesting, but I’ll never have to worry about something like this happening to me…”.
But it’s exactly this line of thinking that could end you up in the very situation that Marc Gafni finds himself in right now and that thousands of others have found themselves in, virtually over night. In his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson describes precisely how people’s lives and careers are destroyed within a matter of days, by ‘faceless commenters’… even if they never committed the ‘crime’ they are accused of.
Whether you’re the CEO of a large organization or a housewife….
Whether you’re a pastor of a thriving congregation or a college student….
Whether you’re a politician or a worker in a steel factory….
You are fair game, and that’s why you should care.
In this post, I’m going to show you how one blogger has repeatedly attempted to manufacture a sex scandal in order to socially murder Marc Gafni. I invite you to read this post then read my longer post on Using The Internet To Attempt Social Murder which fills in many details of this scandal.
A blogger/journalist who claims, on her LinkedIn profile, to be an advocate for changing the culture of sexual violence has spent most of 2016 exclusively posting articles about one of Gafni’s associates and demanding that he denounce Gafni or else, be denounced himself. Of the 16 articles she has posted on her LinkedIn profile all but one pits Gafni at the center of her valiant march against sexual abuse.
This ‘journalist’, as she calls herself, appeared out of nowhere, coincidentally, at the same time the Gafni smear campaign began. She lives in the SF Bay Area, close to Stephen Dinan, the primary organizer of the smear. It doesn’t take much intelligence to put two and two together and come to the conclusion that she was recruited by Dinan himself to act as their in-house journalist for the smear campaign.
Because of her agenda to publicly shame and socially murder Gafni, she throws journalistic ethics out the door, making no attempt to check facts or contact Gafni directly before publishing her articles. She assumes that the worst rumors of the smear campaign are true and proceeds to sensationalize them.
In her latest post, on December 6th, 2016 she brews up a perfect batch of McCarthyism (her specialty) — by layering false ‘facts’, and then using those ‘facts’ to bully Gafni’s associate.
Since I’ve already written extensively about the claims against Gafni and what really happened, I will simply show here how this blogger used her ‘facts’ to lead the reader to believe that a 30 or 40 or 50 year old Marc Gafni ‘confessed’ to having sex with a 14 year old girl and then vulgarly justified it by saying, “She was 14 going on 35 and I never forced her.”
False Fact One: Marc Gafni, a spiritual leader is “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a 14 year-old girl. (Note: Gafni’s age is never given)
False Fact Two: Gafni confesses to having sex with a 14 year old girl.
False Fact Three: Gafni justifies having sex with a 14 year old girl by saying “she was 14 going on 35 and I never forced her.”
False Fact Four: Experts are cited as saying “Marc confessed to having sex with the girl”. (The sense is that there are now informed experts validating the first three false facts. The experts however, have no information, rather they are designated ‘experts’ by the blogger who has apparently fed them them false facts.)
False Fact Five: The abuse of young children by catholic priests as told in the movie Spotlight, the Jerry Sandusky child abuse story, campus rape and the Bill Cosby story are all used interchangeably by the blogger with the Gafni story.
False Fact Six: Disturbing images of crying girls, no older than five or six years old are used to caption the blog post, implying that Gafni is having sex with little girls. Occasional deployment of the word “pedophile” supports the false narrative that is being built against Gafni.
The blogger uses these precisely layered ‘facts’, manipulative images and careful use of sexual predator terms to publicly bully Gafni’s associate, into denouncing him. The consequence of not meeting the demands? A public shaming and call to boycott his organization.
This is the “smear or be smeared” tactic of McCarthyism and particularly it’s modern incarnation, Sexual McCarthyism. However, none of the layered lies are true.
- Gafni never had sex with a 13 or 14 year old girl or any other underaged person.
- Gafni never confessed to having sex with a 13 or 14 year old girl.
- At the time of the story in question, Gafni met the girl (Sara Kabakov) when he was 19 and she was 14. They are now both adults in their 50’s.
- The sum total of their contact was mutual teenage necking, which was experienced by both as positive at the time.
- Kabakov has contradicted herself in different versions of the story over the years.
- Gafni’s version of the events (both of the nature of the contact, and the positive quality of the relationship — including a love letter written to Gafni by Kabakov after the relationship was over) has been validated by extensive polygraph. The polygraph expert, one of the leaders in the world in the field, concluded that there was .001% chance that Gafni was not telling the truth.
- There is ample evidence that Kabakov has been closely associated, for many decades with Gafni’s most virulent opponents and with highly disreputable therapists who are known to encourage false memories.
It would be a lie to say that Marc Gafni hasn’t suffered greatly — on every imaginable level — because of the recent smear campaign. However, he and his colleagues (including myself) have chosen to use this as an opportunity to bring awareness to the very real issues of ethics in digital journalism, and to be a positive voice for restoring integrity in our post-truth era.