Here’s some news for you readers who’ve been keeping up with The ManKind Project, the controversial so-called men’s self-help group that detractors have criticized for targeting members of 12-step recovery groups, practicing therapy without a license and maintaining a dark cloak of secrecy regarding its “New Warrior” rites and rituals.
Reid Baer, the former editor of the non-profit organization’s monthly publication, the New Warrior Journal, says he was fired from the position because the group’s leadership is tired of him demanding more transparency to the public.
“The problem,” Baer tells Hair Balls, “is that they have been a secret organization for so many years that they don’t know how to stop being secret. I fought for stuff for five years and I think they just got tired of me telling the truth, because I would interview men who had dissenting views, and they hated it.”
But, Baer concedes, that was not the official reason he was let go from his $10,000 a year post. According to a letter Baer says MKP’s Executive Director Carl Griesser wrote him, Baer, a former journalist turned poet on the Internet with his own Wikipedia entry, was terminated because he uses the nom de plume “NewWarriorMan.” In his letter, Griesser says the name “New Warrior” is a registered trademark of The ManKind Project and therefore Baer cannot use it.
Baer says that while MKP has trademarked similar phrases to the one he uses, his specific Web name is not one of them.
Griesser also complains in his letter that Baer made the “unilateral decision” not to publish the organization’s periodical in November (to which Baer says his supervisors made the call) and is concerned with “some especially offensive videos in recent weeks.”
One such video Griesser points to, taken by Baer, shows the poet drop trou in front of the camera, bend over a desk, smack lube across his backside and then say, “Go ahead, I’m ready.” The segment is titled, “Jack Nicholson is ready for Barack Obama, et al.”
Griesser told Baer in the letter that, “We believe that your actions make it clear that you are not willing to act in the best interest of the Project.”
But Baer says that in his mind, at least, the reason Griesser fired him was because of his insistence on greater openness with the public.
A year ago, the Press reported a story about a Houston man who killed himself following an MKP secret-initiation retreat and the family’s subsequent wrongful death lawsuit against the organization’s Houston chapter. The family eventually settled for $75,000 and an agreement from the local MKP folks that they’d implement several changes to the way the group screens applicants, discloses information about the program and handles participants who want to leave the retreat during the weekend program.
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“I believe in the principles of MKP and I believe in the initiations we do at the New Warrior Training Adventure,” Baer says, “and I think that [Griesser] and the current executive committee are ruining what it is we’re doing and giving us a bad name.
“Some of the things we do we keep from the public because the surprise value of it, historically speaking, has had more impact. But now that we’re in the Google world, I have for the last five years been campaigning to be more transparent and to share more about what we do on the weekends because men now, before they go, will Google ‘MKP,’ and if all they see are the bad stories, a lawsuit, this and that, then that’s not doing us any good. And so for them to fire the very guy who wants to put good information out there is insanity.”
Griessner had said he would talk to Hair Balls this afternoon about the accusations, but now it looks like that won’t happen until later on. We’ll let you know what he says when he says it.
-- Chris Vogel