Back in August, I wrote a piece called “The Truth About Stefan Molyneux”. The title was a slightly ironic reference to his many videos referring to the “Truth” about the subjects he chooses to address.

Something I tried to articulate in my previous articles and wish to emphasize now is that I believe that my differences with Molyneux are not so much because I am somehow “ideologically opposed” to him or because I’m a “hater” (both accusations levied at me that week) but rather that I’m concerned about his premisesself-serving “logic” and troubling conclusions. I worry that all the incredible good he did for the liberty movement is in the past, and much of his notable present work is not only destroying the credibility he had, but also damaging the credibility of a movement I love.

I was not the only public “critic” that happened to post that week in August; I had actually written mine as a response to an article which was removed from Buzzfeed following “complaints.” The next few days were a surprising explosion of activity on my article and others. A slew of people (including myself) found they were blocked from Molyneux’s Facebook page simply for sharing any of the articles or entertaining a discussion that cast Molyneux in a negative light.

Let me state clearly for the record, that there’s nothing wrong with choosing with whom you interact and opting to limit the things you choose to see. Though I personally don’t block people on social media, I know that it can reduce the amount of rage, frustration and annoyance for many, so I wouldn’t begrudge someone the ability to block people or things from their Feed that they don’t wish to see.

I do, however, have a problem with censorship.

Just a day or so after my article was posted, Michael DeMarco, Molyneux’s Director of Operations over at Freedomain Radio, filed complaints with YouTube regarding a series of videos produced by TruShibes, a YouTube creator who took clips of Molyneux’s radio show and provided commentary and analysis. I used a number of these videos in my links on the article I wrote, to illustrate examples of things he said that I found problematic or worth addressing.

Those videos, and eventually the entire channel, were removed from YouTube.

“Third-party claims of copyright infringement”.

The first problem with this is a simple personal annoyance: my article, which relied on many references, was visited many times the day of and after those YouTube videos were shut down. As a result, my piece was incomplete, and it wasn’t for a couple of days when someone created a Mirror of TruShibes’ account that I was able to fix all the broken links and have a complete article.

The second problem, however, is one of ideology. The method by which Michael DeMarco went to remove TruShibes’ video off the website was by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint.

As many in the liberty scene have noted, the DMCA is two things: it is the “initiation of force,” as well as intellectual property (IP) protection. Many libertarians are on the fence regarding intellectual property, but Molyneux, an anarchist, doesn’t appear to be one of them — he’s made his  anti-IP views clear in numerous videos and posts. The fact that he would use governmental IP claims to censor a critic is baffling to many of his supporters and far from consistent with his ethics by his own reasoning.

When, understandably, fans and observers asked why Molyneux would assert copyright claim and use government force when he supposedly is opposed to either one, DeMarco stated in a post:

“I received messages from several listeners about their calls/images/videos from participation in our shows being used to bully them online. This was spread across two different channels and they asked if I could have the content removed. Going after listeners is completely unacceptable and I used the methods at my disposal to remove the material. If you attack listeners, you don’t get to use any of our material. That’s the line.”

Further, when Molyneux was questioned by Joe Rogan while a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, he stated that the videos were taken down due to alleged “doxxing” of featured callers. I was not aware that Molyneux had ever been particularly concerned with caller privacy before, and his public videos and podcasts from which any quotes were drawn are still up and available. The videos that do fit the description of the claim he made were not the videos I referenced, as I would never condone public harassment, abuse or “doxxing.” The video series I linked to, by TruShibes and others, had nothing to do with doxxing or bullying. He has still provided no explanation for their removal.

The biggest problem, however, is that there is an established process in the case of abuse stemming from a YouTube video. YouTube has an abuse/harassment policy in place. I would know. Full disclosure: I actually work with YouTube daily as part of my job, which is how I learned the next few details.

A DMCA complaint is only filed in the event of a copyright violation claim. The form is available on YouTube’s website. You must agree to the following conditions before submitting the complaint:

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.27.01 AM

Click to view this larger.

“I understand that abuse of this tool will result in termination of my YouTube account.”

Molyneux’s representative, DeMarco, knowingly filed several DMCA complaints, under false pretenses, initiating the use of force and tying up YouTube’s already clogged support systems, which deal daily with real reports of abuse and policy violations.

It is entirely within YouTube’s private Terms of ServiceCommunity Guidelines, and partnership agreements between their creators that they can delete a YouTube channel that violates their policies. It deleted the TruShibes account when DeMarco complained. It should be noted that the creator of Tru Shibes, J. Raven, has responded to Molyneux’s censorship of her criticism with a lawsuit. The text of the lawsuit is available online.

Regardless of Raven’s actions or the results of the lawsuit, Molyneux could easily be found in violation of YouTube’s Agreements by YouTube itself. False claims are easily considered “abusing the system“. If and when YouTube gets around to reviewing his claims, he could have a problem: due to violation of his private contract with YouTube, his channel could be deleted at any time.

I’m sure a few of Molyneux’s critics may be pleased to discover this fact. He attempted to censor a critic using government force, it’s remarkably ironic that he may have censored himself in the process of doing so.

At the end of the day, the concept of his channel being deleted actually makes me uncomfortable, even if the reason it could happen is due to his violation of a private contract. There are a handful of videos of his I have saved in the event that it happens. He has certainly had a couple that I can agree with and would even like to share with others. I do feel that he has been an articulate voice for a cause it seems like he’s since abandonedEven some of his fans, with whom I’ve spoken on these subjects, quietly complain that he’s gone “off the deep end” on numerous topics and strayed far from actual liberty philosophy, to his detriment.

I’m not here to try to destroy a fellow libertarian. The only way I want to see Molyneux’s problematic content “gone” is by Molyneux changing his mind, and deleting it himself. Or by it fading into complete irrelevance as his fan base leaves him for more principled individuals. The man is tremendously unforgiving, and by his own arguments, he has proven himself worth disregarding. However, I don’t live by Molyneux’s logic. I recognize that he is human, and flawed, and that doesn’t make him so “damaged” that he cannot be redeemed. I still like many of his old videos and the very occasional recent one. I still consider him intelligent, articulate, and useful—I’d just prefer it if his good content clearly outweighed his bad.

I never want to see dissent silenced in oppressive ways. Perceived oppression leads to victim mentalities, and Molyneux has plenty of his own victim mentality already. I want to change people’s minds, not crush them to comply or censor them to silence. That doesn’t seem very libertarian, where the market of free thought should be determining the best ideas.

I think of censorship as being anathema to liberty. Freedom of speech and expression are essential to a free people and to libertarianism. We must be able to dissent, to disagree, and to dispute the assertions made by authority or those who claim to be the authority on a subject. By censoring those who oppose us, we lose the chance to have honest dialogues and challenge assumptions.

A free world is inevitably going to involve diverse ideas, and people coming to conclusions you might not – it’s how we are able to progress in philosophy and science and understanding everything around us. I am tremendously wary of people who claim to love liberty and freedom who would censor their critics. The beautiful anarchy that Molyneux and others discuss would be a world where many different ideas will flourish, and I wonder how he’ll manage his intolerance when he doesn’t have the government as a thug for hire. I can’t see it as an easy way to live, but he can believe and assert what he wants. In fact, I encourage everyone to try on different ideas for size, I just hope they don’t try forcing the ideas that fit them best on others.

As the quote often attributed to Voltaire, but was actually by Evelyn Beatrice Hall says:

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

I’m not the sort of critic who wants to see him silenced. I don’t believe that’s intellectually honest or useful to the movement. I want to see him held responsible by his fans and his viewers to make higher quality content, I want to see his problematic works called out. I want to see him apologize for what he did to TruShibes YouTube channel. I want to see him redeem himself with videos as unifying, thought-provoking and inspirational as “The Story of Your Enslavement“.

I sincerely hope that at some point, Molyneux rejects convenient methods of oppression such as censorship of dissent and threats of violence. It’s really hard to watch someone who has articulated how problematic these things are turn around and use them – and the harshest consequence of all of it could come from his violation of a private contract. By invoking government force, Stefan Molyneux grabbed the gun in the room, and if he shoots himself in the foot, the only person responsible for that is him.

  • Great article! I too first enountered Molyneux when I found The Story of Your Enslavement. It was an excellent video that led me to watch more. It wasn’t until I started listening to the live shows and participating in his chat room that I started to see the really disturbing parts of him and the FDR community, ultimately to be banned for expressing concerns over those.

    I can’t be so kind to him though as you though because since then I’ve seen the people that have been sucked into psychobabble and been very very hurt by advice. While admittedly has has a few good videos these live shows and full of quackery and the idolatry of a huge portion of his fanbase means I can no longer recommend any of his work since it’s really just the Kool-Aid to dilute the poison. I always had doubts about whether he was nurturing the cultish mentality of his fans, but after the DMCA incidents there is no doubt. This is also not the first time he’s harassed a critic either. I suggest looking into the story of Liberating Minds (several articles can be found on FDR Liberated). This was long before I heard of FDR, but had I known that early on, I’d have dismissed him much sooner, keeping in mind that cults live and thrive by trapping people in an information bubble.

    This is probably the best article yet regarding FDR’s ongoing aggression against critcs.

    I’ve also written a few blogs myself about FDR and censorship, how hypocritical it is to a “discussion” about “philosophy” as well as his latest criminal acts of aggression.

    Most recently:

  • Skeptic at Heart

    Great article! I can’t help but hope that his YT channel gets shut down because he uses deception in recruitment via those “good videos” to suck people in using the YT side links from people interested in liberty. Once he’s got you in the door with the “good videos” he then uses techniques of thought reform on you, which to me are the antithesis of liberty and freedom as they are specific techniques from psychology that are known to bypass critical thinking, which he supposedly espouses, but then he uses thought reform to shut down the critical thinking of his followers. After watching someone I love lose their “self” to Stefan Molyneux, I can’t help but think thought reform is a million times worse than paying taxes and I would rather pay much higher taxes than lose my ability to think freely for myself, have an open mind, and love and respect people who disagree with me. For pure irony sake, I find the concept of a “freedom cult” to be highly hilarious and entertaining, but only if FDR weren’t hurting so many people.

    What I really wish is that Stef would just get into real therapy and fix what is so wrong with him that he feels he needs to brainwash people into worshipping him by tricking them out of their critical thinking capabilities, rather than just, you know, interacting with people with free minds in the free society that we are certainly closer to out here than in the midst of the FDR world, despite our “enslavement”. I wish someone could get through to Stef as a person and let him see how much he has been hurting people and hurting the causes he supposedly espouses, but within the controlled information world of FDR and the people around him, it’s going to be very challenging for anyone to get through to the guy. But I still have faith in him. If he’s smart enough to start a liberty cult and brainwash people who love freedom, he should be smart enough to realize he is fighting liberty this way and not promoting it. I hope he sees the error of his ways soon so he can actually change his message and truly fight child abuse, which is a very noble and worthy cause, rather than fighting Child Abuse™, which is not raising your kids exactly the way he says you should and not being perfect in your implementation, in which case you are evil.

    • Great article! I can’t help but hope that his YT channel gets shut down because he uses deception in recruitment via those “good videos” to suck people in using the YT side links from people interested in liberty. Once he’s got you in the door with the “good videos” he then uses techniques of thought reform on you, which to me are the antithesis of liberty and freedom as they are specific techniques from psychology that are known to bypass critical thinking, which he supposedly espouses, but then he uses thought reform to shut down the critical thinking of his followers.

      Great insight here.

      Please also check out my comment. I feel it relates to your excellent comment.

      • His channel was alrready shut down once and restored shortly after. If I had to place a bet, I’d guess it was due to some of his misogynistic rants that he was making at the time.

        I’d like to see it shut down too, for a number of reasons. For a start because he did violate YT’s contract and it’s only poetic justice that he lose his channel and TruShibes’ be restored. Most importantly without YouTube, he’ll have to go elsewhere to post his material, someplace where he won’t have the benefit of showing up in YT searches with his clickbait. He may even have to rely on hosting his own materials which could cost him a small fortune in bandwidth.

        • “His channel was alrready shut down once and restored shortly after.”

          I know. I was one of those who put effort into getting it back up. I oppose censorship.

          • I have no problem with YouTube having standard they want to promote and kicking people off that violate them. It is after all, their resource. As a guest in their house posters need to behave appropriately. If he violated their code of conduct he deserves to be kicked out. If he doesn’t like that then he can post stuff on his own servers that he pays for, and even install paywall when he’s done whining about freeloaders.

            DMCA though isn’t YT keeping a clean house. It’s invoking the violence of state. That’s real censorship. He may as well have hired a gang of thugs to break into Google and force someone to erase the channel at gunpoint.

    • “let him see how much he has been hurting people”

      If Stefan is, as increasingly seems likely looking at the evidence and as many have alleged over their years, high on the narcissist/sociopath scale, why do you think this would work or even matter to him?

      Please check out my comment, which touches on that a bit, offhandedly.

    • Can’t say I’d rather have the state than him because basically they are one in the same. They both want to control people. That’s where FDR becomes dangerous. If it were nothing more than deprogramming people from the ideas ingrained into us by the culture and 13 years of government indoctrination, it would be just fine. With Molyneux, it’s about erasing the past so he can reprogram them into his mold.

      I’m not sure therapy would ever help him. From an objective outside view he appears to be a classic psychopath and/or narcissist. If anything I think the therapy he did get was probably what screwed him up more, and only gave him instructions on how to better control people. Between that and Landmark, he had some great tools to get himself started in his cult endeavor.

      It’s not a matter of whether he is “smart” or not. I suggest looking into NPD and psychopathy (not the stuff he talks about or recommends; I have some docus posted on my site [see Video du Jour]). Once you see how narcs and psychos function (they share a lot of characteristics but are distinct), the Moly puzzle all fits into place. His actions are not rational, they are emotionally driven. Criticism inflicts narcissistic injury and can create etreme reactions as we’ve seen here in the case of TruShibes and Paulie Doyle’s article.

  • I really enjoyed this article. I shared it with Dr. Peter Boghossian.

    In this video, both Stefan and Dr. Boghossian was eloquent about not censoring people, especially in philosophical and other intellectual discussions. Of course, I nearly spit out my proverbial cornflakes to hear that argument coming from Stefan, eloquently and seemingly sincerely. He’s a good actor. A theatre-trained actor.

    Peter Boghossian, on the other hand, seemed actually sincere to me—very much so. However, whether he really is or not is largely going to be determined by whether he publicly says something meaningful, significant, and prominent about Stefan’s censorship. It’s well and good if he considers Stefan a friend, but Dr. Boghossian, a bona fide for-real philosopher, has posted publicly about better the truth than a friend, or words to that effect.

    And about opposing religious, faith-based thinking … which surely must describe a lot of Stefan’s organisation! … considering their members’ knee-jerk defence of anything irrational or inconsistent their leader says or does … not to mention the practice of urging them to “deFOO” their family (to depart their family of origin) and both donate to Stefan as well as become reliant on the very-much policed and thought-controlled community Stefan has created.

    Also on The Joe Rogan Experience, not only did Stefan say the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) notices had “nothing to do with copyright or anything like that”, he also made these twin bogus claims, so big as to properly be called whoppers:

    • he had only talked about deFOO three or four times in his material (yeah. no. get out of here! it is true that he downplays his recommending of deFOO when in front of large audiences, in media interviews, and the like, but it is a massive part of what Stefan’s organisation is and his business model is about

    • that the College of Psychologists of Ontario had ultimately came around to basically supporting Stefan’s position on deFOO (this misreprentation could hardly be more chillingly unethical … to not only profit from those who deFOO and then donate to him, as they then become largely emotionally dependent on Stefan’s created and thought-controlled community for emotional and social support … but to actually stack the deck in his favour in terms of persuading people by lying about the College’s position on this matter. Stefan knows it is untrue because his wife, a therapist, was disciplined for advising Freedomain Radio’s callers on deFOO, and Stefan removed her segments from his podcast feed as a result. And not only those, but Stefan’s mocking of those of his followers who deem it wise to research criticism of his ideas, calling them lazy and whatnot; so he misrepresents a professional body’s position on an absolutely critical issue, and discourages people from checking out criticisms of him).

    And he said these whoppers to Joe Rogan’s face. No wonder Stefan has cut back on public appearances. He’s coming apart at the seems, from a philosophical and ethical standpoint.

    Finally, one of the videos Tru Shibes posted was where a caller was asking about deFOO (I suppose this counts as one of Stefan’s “three or four times” lol) and Stefan was using salesmanship tactics to persuade the caller he’d save something like $5,000,000 by deFOOing over his lifetime.

    [from podcast 847]

    Now, to say the least, the caller didn’t realise those benefits. However, he did later become suicidal and alleges that Stefan relayed his concerns to him about what the caller’s suicide would do to hurt Stefan Molyneux’s and his organisation’s philosophical goals in the world.

    So there’s that.

  • Mike Fleming

    If this was an anomalous behaviour on Stefan’s part then I would tend to agree with the conclusions you come to.

    Unfortunately, doing some research, along with my own experiences on the FDR board suggests it is in no way anomalous. Quite the reverse. This pattern of censorship and control has been there from the very start of FDR. Only now with the lawsuit has it exploded into public view (or at least the view of the general libertarian population).

    I try to be forgiving of people’s foibles as much I can. After all, we are all imperfect beings who make a great many mistakes over our lives. Unfortunately, the bad far outweighs the good when it comes to Stefan Molyneux and the evidence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is there for anyone who wishes to look. Look at the behaviour of such a person and then compare it to the behaviour of Molyneux and the pattern is striking.

    Molyneux does not have any part in the libertarian community, as far as I’m concerned. He is more of a liability than asset and needs to be recognised as such.

    • I don’t follow the libertarian community closely but still occasionally take a peek around to see what’s happening and Molyneux seems to be persona non grata at this point. Those that aren’t speaking out against him are generally just not commenting about him at all. It wasn’t but 2-3 years ago he was hosting major events, and now he’s not even attending. He’s burned quite a few bridges and looking at the titles of his latest videos, I think he knows he’s farmed Libertariana dry, and decided to try out more fertile pastures. I say good riddance to him!

      I think the evidence to support NPD is overwhelmingly apparent to anyone not blinded by his dishonestly and hypocrisy, even from the outside, which only shows how high he must rank on that scale.

  • Jon

    I cancelled my monthly donation shortly after reading the previous article. I was always a little uncomfortable with some of the things he said, but that put things into perspective. Of course, he immediately sent me an email asking why and I responded that this article (and the ones linked within) gave me a lot to think about. No further response.

    • Avens O’Brien

      I appreciate your perspective. If you ever receive a response I’d be curious to know about it. Not that I expect you ever will.

  • Anne

    This is a US-based site primarily focused on US politics, so perhaps it would be a good idea to acknowledge that in any of your articles, FAQ or even site header that proclaims you to be ‘writing for a free WORLD’. Instead, your entire site presents US politics as universal, neutral defaults.

  • Matthew Drake

    Avens, have you ever checked out a book from the public library? If so, by your logic you’ve initiating force against other taxpayers. Filing a complaint through DMCA is not using force to “oppress” others because we don’t live in an anarchic society, in which private courts and peaceful means of resolving grievances are possible. The moral temperature of Stefan’s action is at worst neutral because legally we live in essentially a state of nature. The same is true regarding IP. In theory, we can recognize that there’s no such things as intellectual property. Yet we are all charged for copyrighted material as consumers. Why is it most important to direct your criticism to a business owner trying to build a reputation in a statist society using the tools at his disposal? Why not direct your criticism to the law in the first place? What alternative would you propose to deal with someone who is clearly slandering your name and your viewers?