Mar 15th 2018 by sheldogg • 29 Questions • 222 Points
I was not born Amish. I was held in captivity by mother and stepfather until I was almost 19 years old. My stepfather forced my family to dress and live like the Amish. My sister and I escaped our abusive home by agreeing to join the Amish. Three years after joining the Amish I became the maid for the bishop's family and for the next 6 months, I was sexually abused by the bishop. I went against Amish church customs and reported him to the police but he escaped into Canada. In 2017 ( 12 years later) the bishop was finally sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting almost all of his 11 children.
The bishop had brought his family back to the USA and in 2016 the three oldest daughters went to a neighbor lady for help. The neighbor called CPS and they called in law enforcement. The detective assigned to the case was reading my memoir at the time and when one of the children mentioned they had lived in Canada for awhile he figured out that the man he was investigating was the bishop from the book he was reading. I was put in contact with the children and their social worker. Eventually raising awareness did make a difference. The Social worker told me that my memoir helped her understand how to communicate with the children and gave her insight into Amish beliefs. The children told me that they were wavering on prosecuting their dad until they discovered my memoir. Sadly, our entire church had known what kind of man the bishop was but did not report him to the police. Going to the police is severely frowned upon among the Amish.
I wrote my memoir Tears of the Silenced (self published) to raise awareness about the need to report suspected child abuse and the difficulties I faced when reporting the Amish bishop. In the three years since I published Tears of the Silenced I have received emails from all over the world ( England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Denmark and Holland). Most are from child abuse and sexual assault survivors and many grew up in very strict Christian churches. They are from both men and women and each story is heartbreaking. I try to answer each email and offer what comfort or help that I can. Most of them tell me I am the first person they have ever told their stories to.
I hope to encourage all abuse survivors to speak out and tell their stories. It is very painful to do so but it can raise awareness and possibly save others from being abused by the abuser(s). There is much awareness needed about sexual abuse in very conservative churches. Many victims are too scared to come forward because they fear being ostracised from the church. Also, child abuse is an issue that never gets enough attention. Somehow we need to encourage the general public to report suspected cases of child abuse. After I left the Amish many people from the town where I lived as a child apologized for not helping my sister and me. They told me that they knew we were being abused and wanted to call CPS many times but our religious garb threw them off and they did not know what to do.
I had a 2nd or 3rd-grade education when I left the Amish. Today, 13 years later, I am in the last year of nursing school and an author. (My memoir is self published but has sold approx 100,000 ebooks, has 2089 reviews and has been on the Amazon Kindle Store Top 100 list three times. ) I want to encourage all abuse victims to follow their dreams, do not let allow your abuser win. What they did to you was not your fault! I recently started a new subreddit r/BreakTheSilence for abuse survivors to tell their stories and support each other.
My Amazon Author Page has pictures of me when I was 16 years old and still at home with my mother and stepfather. These pictures were taken so that social services would not come out and check up on us. My mother told them it was against our religion to have government officials in our house. They did not question her and took the pictures instead. Note how my stepfather is holding onto our arms in the third picture.
Hello everyone, thank you so much for all of your comments. Feel free to keep posting questions.
Utahns are some of the most conservative people in America. What is your strategy for motivating local liberals/progressives? Is there a margin of moderate voters that you can effectively engage with?
Also, have you considered linking environmental and conservation policy with the abundance of outdoor tourism in Utah generated by skiing, hiking, river-rafting, hunting, and fishing? It's always seemed to me that Democrats have ceded fertile ground in the Western states outside of large population centers when that would provide an inroads to capture some of the moderate vote.
Which companies? I don't think you named them in your post.
For people who know the story of Gawker and Thiel, what additional value does the book provide? What was the most interesting thing you learned about the case when writing the book?
Do you have any friends left with the Amish? If so, what is your relationship with them? I was raised in the hutterites, and had to abandon my friends and family when I left. What is the Amish church's position towards people like yourself who escape?
Unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats 4-1 in the 4th, and outnumber Rs.
Those voters, in my experience and estimation, are not 'centrists'. They are almost uniformly progressives who have been alienated from party politics (mainly blame the Ds for that). Reaching those voters is the key to my electoral strategy.
Environment and conservation are central to my political ideas. I am universally opposed to sacrificing public lands to private development. Protecting the natural beauty of Utah, in particular, is important to sustaining a safe and civic atmosphere.
German companies : TUI , Karl Kolb , heberger french companies : Groupe Protec and de dietrich dutch companies ; melspring , hansmelchers and frans van anraat , Luxembourg general Mediterranean holding and its owner Nadhmi Auchi ( Saddam's Bag Man )
To me, this story is not just the story of a ten year revenge plot, it's really the story of all conspiracies. You know we live in this world of conspiracy theories (I happen to live in Austin, the hometown of Alex Jones) but few actual conspiracies. But any student of history knows that the world often pivots on something a few people cooked up in secret. So to me, this book was a chance to tell that larger story. The fact that Thiel was willing to go on the record and explain his process was, in my view as an author, an unprecedented chance to lay out how power really works in a way that few have been able to before. It's ironic, Gawker's informal motto was that they showed "How Things Work"--the story behind the story. But in this case, they missed what was actually happening. So did everyone in the media. What I tried to do here was step back, take judgment out of the picture, and show what went down and why. I think the book captures that, but ultimately that will be for the readers to decide.
Pretty much like your situation. I am shunned and have no contact with anyone except my sister who still Amish. She is married and has three children. We write a few times a year but we do not really know each other anymore. I have not seen her for 12 years. I hope to go visit this fall. I am allowed to stay for the day but am not allowed to eat at the same table with her or any other church member. She is not allowed to touch me or take anything that I hand I hand her. Probably the same among the Hutterites.
Mardin - the building behind you in your proof picture is very interesting. What is it?
Did it ever come out who leaked Bubba’s video? I live in Florida and used to listen and it was heavily implied that the video originally came from one of his cohosts.
Former Jehovah's Witnesses waving from that dark corner: many of us aren't even allowed to visit. Phone calls won't be answered. Some aren't even invited to the burial of their own parents....
God I hate abusive cults like the ones you and I left...
Just its association to the Democratic Party. Oh and the processing fees above standard cc fees, which the party pockets. ActBlue fees are greater than PayPal fees.
its the halabja massacre memorial musum -Mardin
The police reports, which you can pull out from the trial documents off the website of the Pinellas County Courthouse, suspected that the tapes were leaked by a rival radio DJ Matt 'Spiceboy' Loyd. He was never charged with the crime so we should be careful about pointing fingers, but as far as a best guess goes from both the FBI and the Tampa Police, that's it. Even weirder--weirder than this entire dispute being put into motion by a fight between two shock jocks--is that the lawyer who represented the brokering of the sales of the tape was a man named Keith M. Davidson, who later came to represent Stormy Daniels after her alleged affair with the man who is now the President of the United States of America...
Edit: article here about that insane set of circumstances.
Yes, I have many former JW's who email me. A lot in common with the Amish when it comes to shunning, maybe even a little more severe in some aspects. Really sad and tears apart a lot of families. I was not allowed to attend my sister's wedding. Seemed so unnatural:(
I don't go because I like it lol. I go out of duty. Both parties hate it but it's a game we must play.
I thought he would seem much more angry than he ended up seeming. I spent enough time with him that if that had been the primary motivation, I think the mask would have slipped--if only for a second. Instead, he seemed very calm, very detached, very strategic about the whole thing.
The other interesting part of Thiel's personality is that he uses the steel man technique when arguing or explaining a complicated issue. This surprised me given that he had taken to calling Gawker terrorists and such. But really, he was always very open-minded when it came to discussing things. For instance, if you ask Thiel a question—about Gawker or Trump or whatever—he doesn't just pull up some half-formed opinion. Instead, he begins with, “One view of these things is that . . . ,” and then proceeds to explain the exact opposite of what he happens to personally believe. Only after he has finished, with complete sincerity and deference, describing how most people think about the issue, will he then give you his opinion, which almost always happens to be something radically unorthodox—all of it punctuated with liberal pauses to consider what he is saying as he is saying it. Even when he does describe his opinion, he prefaces it with “I tend to think . . .” or “It’s always this question of . . . ,” as if what he is about to tell you is simply capturing where his opinion falls the majority of the time when running a thought exercise on the topic, as if he is always in the process of deciding what he thinks. I found that to be very impressive and unusual. It was hard to be a lazy thinker around him.
I totally understand :(
Why are there photographs of you? Where I’m from, the Amish do not allow you to take their photo. I’m assuming this varies by sect but all of the ones near us do not allow this
The photographs are from when I was living with my mother before I joined the Amish. We did not take photographs but the state was coming to check on us and my mother had given them a fake address, she was also afraid that if they found us we would be questioned and they would be in trouble. So they decided to take the photographs and give them to the caseworker. It worked, they never discovered that my mother had been giving them a fake address. She told them that it was against our religion to have government officials in our house. Whenever you inject religion into the equation it is easy to get away with things.
How much money do you estimate Peter Thiel spent backing Hogan?
Congratulations on your success! What do you think goes into the mentality of not-reporting-to-the-police? Outside of the failure to report such actions, were other members of your family/church/society/etc supportive of you speaking out?
Hello:) Thank you for this very important question. There is so much more to my story but it was not possible to put it all in that AMA. A little background. My step-grandmother and my mentally challenged aunt were also living at home with my mother and stepfather. They were severely abused. I went to the police first to try and get them removed from my mother's custody but the police were so hesitant to do anything because of the religious aspect. I asked the policeman to pull up my aunt's dress and look at the bruises on her legs but he told me that he could not because it would violate religious freedom (my mother dressed her in Amish clothes). I then asked for a female officer to be brought in to do it but they never did it. I was exasperated and went to the police 3 times. I could not get them to do anything. My grandmother died not long after and my aunt died about three years ago, about the same time my memoir was published.
It is too easy to hide behind religion. When I reported the Amish bishop I was met with much of the same attitude "We have to be careful not to infringe on religious freedoms" until he escaped into Canada. At that point, I believe they realized something was very wrong. I really love that our country has religious freedom but I think we need to be careful that religious freedom does not trap victims and make it impossible for them to get help.
By the time I had left the Amish I was numb and felt I had failed my aunt, my step-grandmother, and the bishop's children. I could not save any of them. I got pushback from every angle, the Amish, the police, adult protective services and of course my mother and step-father. I was the only one trying to help any of them. The only one helping me was a non-Amish lady. It was devastating. Nine years later I wrote my memoir in a last ditch effort to raise awareness. I barely expected anything to come of it but something was set in motion and now three years later the bishop is in prison, people from my hometown have read my book, I have found my long lost brother and I am helping people from all over the world through email.
I think our culture's mentality of "mind your own business" plays a big part into why child abuse cases are not reported. They think it is not their business and may even fear other people will remind them of that fact if they start to meddle. Also many believe that CPS will not do anything even if they call. There definitely needs to be a big overhauling of the CPS system.
I know in my case, the people who apologized to me and told me that they had known are truly some of the kindest people you could ever meet. It is not that they were bad people, today they are really good friends of mine :) I think they truly just did not know how to help. I hope that answered your question :)
How did you convince both Peter Thiel and Nick Denton to talk to you for this book?
That sounds like a very compassionate view on your part of those people who knew. Have you always been able to see you at that way or were you angry at them for a while?
I'm not sure I convinced them, so much as the fates aligned. I happened to get an unsolicited email from Thiel in late 2016--he had read some of my Gawker columns and suggested we get dinner sometime. I got an email from Denton not long after saying he'd read some of my philosophical writing and wanted to know if I wanted to get together. That I was talking to both of them I think was intriguing to them both, and also meant the other would want to keep talking for fear that the project might be too heavily weighted by one side. I also kept the project's direction really open for a long time--was it a book about media or technology or these two characters or was it about revenge? I really didn't know, but that allowed me to ask about a wide range of things so it never felt super invasive or "gotcha"-y. Denton preferred to do his interviews over chat, so our process was also much less of an imposition. Meanwhile, I think Thiel is quite proud of what he had accomplished and was tired of the very biased reporting around it.
I was angry for at least the first 10 minutes. I cried. But I could see the pain and guilt in their eyes and just could not be mad at them. Being mad at them would not accomplish anything.
Hi Ryan. Do you think it's better for a marketer to be a generalist with a broad knowledge across a number of disciplines, or be highly specialized in one?
And do you ever think you'll turn your hand to fiction writing?
My great grandmother left the Amish community when she was 16. I wasn’t old enough to understand what that meant, and I wish I would have asked her about her experience coming into a non Amish society. I’m sure you’re experience is drastically different than hers was because we live in a completely different world. With that being said, I have a few questions I wish I could have asked her before she passed.
- What was it like to come into a modern world?
- Was it overwhelming to transition to this way of life?
- Are there any things that carried over from your Amish life to your non Amish life?
- Is it hard to break any biases that were ingrained in you when you were growing up?
- Do you ever fear that you made the wrong decision when you left the Amish community?
- How hard was it to leave everything including family, friends, and belongings?
- And finally, how hard was the decision?
Sorry for asking so many questions! These are questions I always wanted to ask, but never got the chance to.
I suppose that depends on who you want to be and what kind of career you want to have. Personally, I think it's best to be really good at 3-4 distinct things. This was you have different competencies you can expand or contract based on need, the market, interest, etc. But that's still small enough to develop a solid reputation for excellence in. If you're good at 500 things (if that's even possible) it's hard for people to understand what you do.
Basically, I'd rather be Bo Jackson than Ashton Eaton.
I often describe leaving the Amish to being teleported from the 1600s to 2000s, it was very overwhelming for about 6 months. Things I carried over are cooking, doing crafts, I do not use swear words:) I am not sure if I have biases or what they are but most likely. I do not regret leaving the Amish, but like most Amish who leave I have had the recurring nightmare that I died and went to hell a few times.
It was extremely hard to leave the Amish. I did it once, but always say that if I had to do it a second time I could not do it. Some people leave and go back and leave and go back several times.
The decision to leave was extremely difficult. In fact, I did not decide to leave until after I had been to the police and the bishop told me to call off the investigation. In that moment I removed my head covering and stomped on it. This was the bishop of my church, he had assaulted me and now was telling me what to do for the sake of my soul? Something just clicked in that moment and I realized something was very wrong.
Did anyone at Gawker ever address the hypocrisy of posting the Hogan tape while Jezebel made a huge deal over the celebrity nude leaks?
It sounds like you and your mom were not Amish until she married him? How did an English woman end up marrying an Amish man? How old were you at the time? Was it a major culture shock to live the Amish way when they first got married?
I address it in the book.
“Gawker is not in the business of holding back information,” Gawker’s managing editor, Emma Carmichael, would later say in her deposition. If they got it, they ran it. A Gawker writer would defend a similar story a few years later by saying, “Stories don’t need an upside. Not everyone has to feel good about the truth. If it’s true, you publish.” These people had come to believe that “truth” was the governing criterion, and that the right to publish these stories was absolute. As far as their experience was concerned, they were correct: There had never been serious consequences. They had called every bluff. They had published what every other media outlet would have deemed unpublishable and not only walked away from it—the audience loved them for it.
Of course they knew that running stolen footage of a naked person was not exactly right. Jezebel, a Gawker site, had made a name for itself defending women against every kind of slight, defending their rights to privacy, defending them against men who tried to victimize or bully them online. Jezebel would define its views more clearly in outrage over a rival blog that published a controversial story about someone’s sexuality: “Don’t out someone who doesn’t want to be out. The end. Everyone has a right to privacy. . . .” Except Peter Thiel, and now Terry Bollea, apparently.
Less than two months before the Hogan piece, a Gawker writer who would later become the site’s editor writes a piece condemning the rise of “fusking”—the practice of stealing photos from online accounts and posting them. In it, he rejects any attempt to blame the victim, or any excuses made for the “behavior of thieves and creeps” when they steal people’s private things. Gawker had seen the anger and outrage about Hunter Moore when it had written about him and his media site built around so-called revenge porn. Commenters even cheered when Gawker reported that the FBI was investigating Moore. Yet when that tape arrived to its SoHo offices, Gawker would twiddle it down to a highlight reel and run that naked video of Hulk Hogan in front of an audience that numbers in the millions—a video not just of Hogan, but also of the woman he was filmed having sex with, who also had not consented to its publication. Gawker would promote it to their Facebook fans: “It’s probably time you watched this snippet from the Hulk Hogan sex tape with a woman some claim is Bubba the Love Sponge’s wife. Work’s over. You’re fine.”
So, my story is complicated and very unusual. I was 4 years old when my mother met my step-father. Neither were Amish. When I was six years old my step-father decided we should start dressing like the Amish. It was a gradual transition. I think my stepfather thought that if we started dressing religiously no one would ask why my sister I were not in school, why we had no friends or why we were rarely seen in public etc. It worked. My stepfather was in his late 40s and had been wanted for child molestation about 15 years before my mother met him. He escaped arrest by fleeing to Alaska and working on the fishing boats for a few years. After that, he was a gold miner in Northern Arizona and that is where my mother met him.
By the time I was 9 years old we looked fully Amish. We had learned to sew the clothes and traveled around in a motorhome selling crafts that we made. My sister and I worked long hours. When I was 11 we moved to the ranch in Northern WA, my sister and I were only let off the mountain to help sell things or bring supplies back to the ranch. It was a nightmare that would not end until I was 19. When I finally did go to the Amish community It was not that hard for me to adjust because I had dressed Amish for most of my life and was badly abused. For the first month, it seemed like a breath of fresh air. My sister and I were accepted into the Amish because of our obedient natures. It would be very hard for the average person to join the Amish, very few have ever joined the Amish from the outside world.
One of the narratives about the Hogan/Gawker/Thiel saga has been, in its distilled form: Since Peter Thiel's financial resources far outpaced Gawker's, he shut down the company (personally, I see it as more nuanced, but fair enough). Then the narrative goes on to talk about how dangerous this is for journalism. What's your take? Is Thiel's involvement in this case an inauspicious omen for journalism? Does Thiel himself reveal any kind of dislike for the free press? Any predictions for how this case will be impacting the media ecosystem 5-10 years from now?
How accurate is Weird Al's Ahmish Paradise?
The central question of this story to me is, who was the bully? Was Thiel the bully or was it Gawker? Was Peter the billionaire who destroyed a millionaire? Or was he a righteous man who attempted to use his money to solve a problem that only power and money could solve? Was it the media outlet that thoughtlessly outed a then-mostly unknown tech investor? Or was it the billionaire who spent millions plotting against him for it? Was it the website who loved to out gay men or was it the team who would back Trump in the 2016 election, and in the case of Charles Harder, write an 11 page letter threatening to sue Michael Wolff for his book about Trump? Was it Denton who never apologized, who ignored judicial orders or was it Thiel, who never showed his face until after his revenge was complete?
It depends on where you sit, but one thing that has been lost in the coverage since the verdict: Gawker thought they were winning until suddenly, they lost. It was Gawker who had filed endless motions and appeals, who had fought Hulk Hogan with scorched earth tactics, and never apologized for obtaining an illegally recorded sextape and publishing it for more than seven million people to gawk at (and then spent $10M+ vigorously insisting it was right to do so). There was a moment in mid-2014, when Gawker’s lawyers threatened Hulk Hogan, telling him that it was his last chance to drop the case before they went after him for attorney’s fees. More than anything, what the jury and the judge reacted to had been their arrogance. The verdict reflected that.
Nick Denton told me, “The idea that Thiel was terrified of the next Gawker piece is still absurd to me—and given how things turned out, we had much more to fear from him than the other way around." But it wasn’t that absurd at the time, when they were a website with hundreds of millions of readers, when Gawker was the site that had never been challenged in court and published whatever it wanted, Thiel believed that Gawker’s power was partly in pretending that it was more powerful than it was. Now that they're gone...it looks different.
As for who is the bully now? As I said, backing Trump and some of the clients Charles Harder has taken on since give me pause...but that doesn't have the power to rewrite where things were in 2007.
That is funny. I actually watch that video quite often. I think it is pretty accurate. Of course, it is silly and the costumes are ridiculous but the overall message is quite real. Many Amish are in competition over who can be the most humble, this leads to a lot of bickering and a lot of discontent.
Ryan, how did you personally feel about Gawker?
The site elicits are a lot of strong reactions around the web (especially here on Reddit) with people being strongly in favour of the work they did or despising it.
Where do you stand? Do you think it was a particularly vile institution or was it no different than any internet blog/'news' site - just a lot bigger?
First off, thanks for doing this AMA!
Did you ever hear or learn to speak "Pennsylvania Dutch" or "Mennonite German"?
I started out with very strong opinions (I'd written about Gawker in my first book, Trust Me I'm Lying and also in my Observer column). I'd also been attacked by Gawker several times and the subject of some preposterously inaccurate stories. So I actually went into the book with a bit of a bias, but I found myself considerably softened talking to Nick, talking to A.J, reading what many of the writers wrote in their eulogies of the site. What I tried to do in the book ultimately was remove judgement as much as possible and just show what happened. I think that's a more important lesson.
Whether Gawker deserved what happened to it doesn't change what actually happened and to me that's where there is something to learn. How did Thiel do this? What were his motivations? How did no one suspect it as it was happening? Why was Gawker unable to fend him off? How did Gawker actually work as a company? What were its motivations for publishing the story? Why has the coverage since been so slanted in their favor since losing? Those were the questions I tried to answer.
Yes, I am/was fluent in the language. That was my main hurdle when I went to the community. My sister and I were told right from the start that we would have to be fairly fluent in the language before we could be baptized and start dating. Being teenagers our very lives depended on learning the language. If an Amish girl does not have a steady boyfriend by the time she is 20 she is pretty much destined to be an old maid. It took me about 9 months to learn the language. I did it by writing down 20 words a day and had the school aged children teach them to me. The children were amazing tutors and loved feeling important.
What do you make of Gawker's arrogance during the whole thing? I recall the child porn comment. It seemed insane.
What is dating like in the Amish community? Also, how was sexual education brought up and usually at what age? Thanks for this AMA!
I would say their hubris was immense, and a large reason for their downfall. Whether they should have run the tape is one discussion, but how I think for many years they did not take the case seriously--assuming that Hogan would settle, that he was an idiot, that people were on Gawker's side. Their decision in 2013 to ignore the judge's order to remove the article (though it was later overturned) was probably the height of that hubris, along with the comments made during the depositions in late 2013, which you referenced. Part of that aggressive exterior may have been motivated by internal insecurity. If you apologize, admit weakness, even admit wrong doing and you're an outlet that publishes first and verifies second, that puts a big target on your back.
I am from the very strict Amish. In my community, the only sex education that was given was by the mother or older sister on the day before a girls wedding. This I was told because they figured my sister and I were more accustomed to hearing conversations about sex. It is taboo unless you are married. Unmarried people are not even allowed to talk about pregnancies or acknowledge that someone is pregnant. Of course, at a certain age, you start figuring things out but you are not allowed to talk about any of it until you are married.
I'm not sure I did. I see myself as an author or a writer, who also has expertise as a marketing and strategist. I don't see myself as a journalist.
When they become teenagers they do. Somehow they know not to talk about it though. If someone does say something they are talked to by the mother or father. In my community, it was common for unmarried girls to avert their eyes so they were not looking at the pregnant lady's belly.
Hey Ryan, how do you think Gawker's hypocrisy at the time possibly influenced the court case? An example I have is Gawker media sites condemning sites for hosting J-Law nude photos, yet posting on their site that they were defying the judge order to take down Hogan's tape. You researched all the legal docs and did interviews, did that ever come up?
What type of nursing are you interested in?
I wrote about that many years ago actually http://observer.com/2014/09/spare-us-the-sanctimony-the-gross-hypocrisy-of-online-media-in-the-nude-photo-leak/
I am doing the bachelor's program right now and have a year left. After that, I plan to go on and get my Masters to become a Nurse Practitioner. Right now my favorite fields are ER and Psychiatric.
From which court are you seeking relief? Will you need sanctions?
Why was Thiel's funding even necessary for Hogan to seek justice? To me, that's an even bigger question.
From what i remember, Gawker refused a takedown order, bragged about doing so, all on a hidden-cam porn of a person taken without their knowledge. What Gawker did was screwed up, no way around it.
So why was a Billionaire needed to fund this?
Good luck in whatever you choose!!
Unless Congress acts, retrograde clowns like AG Sessions will be an ever-present threat to citizens living in states wherein legislative initiatives have expanded legal access to marijuana. I do not see nationwide legalization an immediate possibility or necessity, but Congress can prevent the executive from pursuing re-criminalization by removing marijuana from Schedule I of the 1972 Controlled Substances Act. Taking away that set of DEA fangs will protect individual states' efforts to pursue their own regulatory decisions.
first to national court i halabja and then we have a case also in paris and we intend to bring additional cases in london , holland and germany
As Thiel said—and perhaps only Thiel could have said with a straight face—Hogan ‘was only a single digit millionaire.’ This case took roughly four years and cost more than $10 million to litigate. Three years in Hogan lost his endorsement deals and was kicked out of wrestling when his racist comments were leaked. There was no way he could have taken this to a jury on his own. Maybe without Thiel’s help there could have been a low six figure settlement (as Gawker had done in another case) but no jury verdict in my opinion.
You prove that you don't know much
The AWB of 94 only limited magazines to 10 rounds. Banned telescoping buttstocks. No Bayonet lug. The AR-15 was still available and sold.
And even if, you CANNOT infer causation based on correlation.
Hi and thanks for doing this AMA!
If the Saddam Hussein regime had not been toppled, do you think groups such as ISIS would have still been able to rise to such levels of power as they have today in the region?
In the current conflicts of the Syrian civil war, we can still see chemical weapons attacks being carried out by groups such as ISIS, rebel groups, and the Syrian military. What can we, as everyday people, do to help let the companies that are producing these weapons that they cause mass harm once they fall into the wrong hands?
If you could meet Marcus Aurelius what would you do and what would you ask him?
what else can we do in order to raise awareness?
"...don't know much"
This from the person who believes OKC bombs and planes flying into the World Trade Center are valid arguments to make contrary to an assault weapons ban.
You are incorrect, though. The model of AR-15 being used in these events were illegal before 2004. Only one of the central modifications making it the mass-shooter's weapon of choice were allowed.
we should protest against companies that sell chemical weapon and not buy their products and we need laws that protect people and allow them to sew the comopanies that harmed them and if we could hold those companies accountable that helped saddam no other company will do it again
The best way to raise awareness is to talk about it and write about it on social media. Most change starts with people talking, forming groups and eventually making their voices so loud they cannot be ignored. Hopefully, that will happen one day. I am on the front lines trying to make that happen. For now, talking about it will start pulling back the veil of secrecy. Thank you for caring :)
Hi Ryan, I'm a huge fan of your work and just finished up Conspiracy last week. I had two questions for you if you'll excuse my greed:
1) What tenet of Stoicism do you find most difficult to practice in your own life?
2) Given that Conspiracy is a departure from your previous works, what unique challenges did you face while writing it?
Hey Ms. Griffin, I can't imagine the strength you hold in your soul--its amazing! I am curious about a ton of things, and will be looking into your memoir, but am interested in what kind of PTSD you have experienced and how you've dealt with it? You said before faith is still a big part of it which, to me, is amazing that you've separated the predators from what they claimed to represent. Anyways, what has the mental health aspect of your recovery be like?
Also, as a social worker, what can be done at a societal (however micro the Amish society is) to encourage reporting of these incidents? I feel like that will end up being rhetorical, but is there any angle that's missing?
Thanks in advance!
The truth is all of Stoicism is easy to say, difficult to practice. I think one of the harder ones for me is just not letting my temper or my impulse to react drive my behavior. To me, the Stoic is someone who is deliberate about what they do and say, just part of my personality is to be intense and always do, do, doing. Someone says something, I want to respond. There's an opportunity, I want to take it. There's something that needs to be fixed, I want to fix it. Someone makes an argument, I want to argue back. The problem there is that I'd be better off if I paused and really thought about the best response or whether a response was necessary or not. I would save myself trouble, heartache, frustration, etc if I could do this better. When I look at my journal entries, I tend to find this issue--or something related to it--is central to most of what I am struggling with or having problems with.
For me, my faith has been my saving grace, literally. As a child, I always believed in God and always felt he had a purpose for me. No matter how bad things got there was always that little spark that kept me going.
As far as PTSD, at one point it was very severe. For about 2 years after I left the Amish I had a recurring nightmare almost every other night. I dreamt that I had not left the Amish, that it had only been a dream and I was still at the bishops house. I would scream and cry and wake up in terror. The nightmare was so real I had a hard time knowing which one was real. I would get up and walk around and touch things until I was convinced that I was in the reality. After about two years they came less often and now maybe only once a month or so. I also would jump and scream at loud noises or when people reached out to touch or hug me. I have gotten better and rarely have these reactions anymore.
As far as what we can do to encourage reporting..... I wish I knew. I think raising awareness is the only way. The Amish know that outside people do not know how the church works. Church members are told not to talk about church matters to outsiders. Only by shedding light on the darkness can we hope to change things.
You're not a journalist, yet you wrote in this investigative report in your typical style drawing from history/prior works. Did you ever feel you were stretching to craft a narrative, for example seeing the book on ancient strategy on Theil's desk? Or were their things said in the interviews that lent themselves to the way you crafted the "story?'
10 years in prison for molesting almost 11 children? What a joke.
It really was insane to see Discourses on Livy on Thiel's shelf in his apartment (not his desk), given that I had just read it as research for the book. And for him to be able to reference the section from memory was just one of those things that made this feel somewhat meant to be. The other funny anecdote is that he gave me a copy of The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World thinking it was this obscure text that would make me realize what he had tried to do...and it happened that I'd already read it a few years before and had recently pulled my notes from it to see where there might be some insights for this book.
As for stretching to craft a narrative, I would say that the weird thing about the book was that there was actually too much material so instead of stretching the difficulty (or the shaping) came more from what not to include. A question above asked about who leaked the tapes, my decision to make this book about a conspiracies meant that the leakers identity was a lot less important, so it was left on the cutting room floor.
Your question is good though. Authors, journalists, lawyers--we're all telling stories and stories require choices and as a result certain things are obscured or emphasized to the reader. But I think this is better than say me dumping all the legal documents on you and saying: You figure it out. I mean, that's what I'm being paid to do.
Yes, we fear he will get out early for good behavior :(
Do you think this sort of thing happens with any frequency in other Amish communities? And is the normal reaction to not involve any outside authorities and just resort to shunning? Is there any other procedure abuse victims can resort to? Also thank you for exposing this stuff, as depressing as it is, I think it's better to get it out in the open.
The proof is in the judicial precedent. The '94 assault weapons ban was refused a hearing before SCOTUS; that is the degree to which the courts agree that restricted access does not violate the Constitution.
It is prelevant in most all Amish communities. The more liberal the community the more resources there are for victims but those resources are very limited and usually consist of some form of counseling for the victim and predator. In very rare cases, maybe less than a handful are the police ever called in by someone who is still a member of the church.
I know victims from the very most liberal to the very most strict and the same basic techniques run throughout. The mother usually reports that her husband or brother or someone is molesting her children or teenage daughters. She is told that the ministers will handle it. The predator is brought before the church and shunned for a few weeks. After he is brought back into the church no one is allowed to talk about his crime ever again because he has been forgiven. The predator may be reported 5 - 7 times. Eventually the victim or the mother of the victim will stop saying anything. It usually does not do any good and it often brings shame on the victim.
In my community, the bishops wife and her 7 sisters had been molested by her father. He had been reported to the ministers 5 times by their mother. Then, the bishops wife's mother and her eight sisters had been molested by her father. Almost all of the bishop's wife's 11 children were molested by her husband, the bishop. A heartbreaking tragedy. Approx 24 out of 32 people were molested, 75%.
Do you have something other than anecdotal evidence for your position that the unaffiliated voter in Utah's 4th is a right-winger who simply does not like either political party? Because I have anecdotal evidence on the contrary and the following:
2012 participation in UT Democratic Party caucus - ~ 11,000 2016 participation in UT Democratic Party caucus - ~79,000
What, pray tell, was the difference?
It's been optioned. We'll see
I have changed names, identifying characteristics, and some locations. Many of the worst abuse cases were left out. I concealed some identities to protect the innocent.
Do you think your experience will make you a different parent than you expected to be?
Can you, er, be specific? Or at least pretend you're asking me and not your idea of a cookie-cutter back-bencher Democrat?
Look, I wouldn't want to listen to me talk for that long either, but the vast majority of listeners have said they prefer it when I read. So I got with that.
I do not have children yet but I hope to. I think my experience makes me a little terrified of being mean to children and whenever I have babysat or taken care of children in the past I have a very hard time being firm when I should be. When I do become a parent I know this will be one my greatest challenges. I truly hate to see a child's sad face.
I've been to a Golden Corral restaurant at 5 different times in my life. Each time, there is at least two to three tables of about 8 to 10 Amish people eating. Every other restaurant I've ever been to in my life, I have never seen an Amish person eating. Why do is this? Also, is it appropriate to engage in conversation with them in public?
I am not sure why they were at Golden Corral. Maybe it was near a Greyhound bus stop? A lot of Amish travel to weddings etc. by bus. Amish generally do not eat in sit down restaurants.
I remember outsiders coming up to talk to us. It depends what you want to talk about. A lot of Amish people find the outside world fascinating, even if they would not admit it. The only times we really got annoyed was when people would start pestering us with questions or would try and take our pictures. I remember it made me feel like I was less of a human or unequal to them. I really hated when people would take pictures of me. I would be walking down the road with the children or walking to church with the young people and you could see people taking pictures as they drove by.
Wait are you the same Ryan Holiday that had that email list thing? I think I'm subscribed lol
Do you have any Amish recipes you would share with us?
I am. That little list started with 50 people and now is about 90,000. It's my favorite thing to do.
Well, trying to think. I cannot think of particular full recipes at the moment but can tell you things I enjoyed eating and making :)
I really liked the cheese spread we made to put on bread, I liked Jello with cottage cheese on the top, homemade ice cream, homemade pickles, fried chicken, haystack suppers, fried potatoes with tomato gravy and apple pies..there are more things but I cannot think of them at the moment :)
Hi Ryan - been following your great work since 'Trust me - I'm lying' ..
Apple was no fan of Gawker - especially after the whole iPhone 4 leaking affair ..
Do you think they had anything to do with this case? Or were they just cheering from the sidelines (like many others) .. ?
Wow. This is absolutely incredible. I just wanted to ask, what are your religious beliefs now?
Well when rumors began to fly that someone was back Hogan, there were a few candidates. I don't know if Apple was one of them, but Denton briefly considered the possibility that the Church of Scientology was responsible.
Thank you for the question :) I am still a devoted Christian but I am non-denominational. I will never agree to exclusively join any church ever again. I dress normally, I think :)
Do you think it’s possible to have gender equality in an Amish family or is the culture to skewed towards patriarchy for that to be possible?
I do not think there is a way to have gender equality in a society where the wife is expected to do what she is told. Where unmarried girls are sexually assaulted and then blamed for it. Many sexual assault victims are blamed, they are told they wore their dress too tight, did not cover enough hair with their head coverings or were too friendly. This is why it took me so long to come forward and report the bishop. The only thing that gave me the strength to report him was the fear that he was molesting his children.
A culture where you have to accept the ruling of the bishop and can be shunned if you argue or do not agree to your punishment will never be able to have gender equality or even basic human rights.
This is not to talk bad about the Amish. There are so many Amish who want to change things but they are trapped. If they speak out they could be shunned and could lose everything. The Amish are brainwashed to believe that if they leave the Amish they will go to hell. Many feel helpless and feel they have no choice but to go along with the flow of things.