My Employer Risked Its Core Mission to Cancel Me for My Conservative Views
Speaking my mind in public has cost me almost everything, and it may yet cost me the rest.
Reality's Last Stand is a reader-supported publication. Please help keep articles like this paywall-free by becoming a paying subscriber or making a one-time or recurring donation. I’d rather a million people view this content for free than have it be accessible to only a small group of paying subscribers, but that means I rely fully on the generosity of my readers for support. Thank you!
“They said it was gonna be $7,000 to bury my mama, but we don’t have that,” Joe said. “I’m out of work and my brother’s on disability.”
Joe reached me when he called the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA), the nonprofit where I have served as executive director since 2003. We are the Consumer Reports of the death industry, helping consumers avoid being exploited at the most vulnerable time of their lives.
Joe didn’t know—you may not know, either—that funerals don’t have to cost $7,000. Because funeral homes regularly hide their prices, most Americans have no idea that some funeral homes build in reasonable profits while some are flat-out predatory. Most don’t know that a cremation can cost $1,000, or that it can cost $4,000, right in the same town.
By hiding their prices, funeral homes make comparison shopping impossible, taking advantage of the cloud of grief under which people make these decisions, to maximize their profits.
Through a campaign that I’ve led, the FCA is on the brink of a major victory that will protect every American from the kind of rampant exploitation the organization was created to fight. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is set to require price transparency by mandating that funeral homes post their prices clearly on their websites.
This would mean the end of grief being forcibly merged with financial panic. Nobody would ever again have to walk into a mortuary blind, overwhelmed, and vulnerable with the task of honoring the dead while still paying the bills for the living. Requiring price transparency in the death industry represents the single biggest movement towards consumer empowerment for the bereaved in 40 years.
The FCA is a federation, just like in Star Trek. The member organizations are “staffed” by the kind of public-spirited volunteers who choose the high-stress, low-or-no-pay world of consumer advocacy because they truly want to make a difference in the world.
On the cusp of its greatest triumph, you would probably think that the people staffing these organizations would be ecstatic and eager to celebrate the culmination of a very long campaign to protect the bereaved. You would probably guess that there would be no political opinion any one man could express that would be so damning that they’d be willing to risk scuttling the chance to protect 330 million Americans from exploitation on the worst and most painful day of their lives.
You would be wrong.
A few months ago, the wokest subset of the FCA’s member organizations formed a cancellation mob and demanded my job. This mob was made up of colleagues and “friends” who had known me for years and even decades. People whose homes I had stayed in suddenly believed, or pretended to believe, that I was a bigot and a dangerous man.
They pulled their funding, branded me a transphobic racist misogynist who didn’t “value the humanity” of their “community,” and went on a public smear campaign to insist that the FCA get rid of me. They made me socially and politically radioactive at the moment I was most needed to speak to the FTC, to Senators, and to Congressional staff to push this hard-fought campaign over the finish line. They were not just willing, but eager, to risk the protection of 330 million Americans in order to cancel me.
They won. I am almost done training my replacement.
She’s a good choice and will do the best she can to carry on our mission, but nothing can replace twenty years of expertise gained in the trenches. There are only a handful of experts on funeral law, industry practices, and their effects on consumers. I am one of them. I co-wrote the book on funeral law for consumers in plain English, state by state. There is a reason that 60 Minutes, national media, senators and congressional representatives tap me for advice on protecting the bereaved.
But none of that mattered to the mob. As of January 1, 2023, I am unemployed. I resigned my position before I could be fired in order to have some control over the terms of my departure.
What was my sin? Had I hung a noose from the rearview mirror of my Prius? Did I assault a trans person? Did I don blackface and drop the n-bomb? No. It was more sinister than that. They discovered that I, a gay man, host a conservative podcast.
If you're wondering how a progressive gay liberal became a libertarian conservative, the story of that political transformation will be told on my Substack soon. Hint: being the guy who major media called to discuss death in 2020 was a big part of it.
I am a traitor in the eyes of my woke colleagues because I have a weekly show on which I tell the truth. The show is called Disaffected. It’s a weekly TV-style talk show with additional audio-only episodes. On the show I won’t pretend that men are women, I won’t swear allegiance to Black Lives Matter, and I won’t apologize for my honest takes about COVID hysteria.
Because I contradicted the woke orthodoxy—and worse, refused to apologize for it when pressured—I had to be destroyed, made unemployable, and ideally punished with homelessness.
I want to make clear that the FCA’s governing board is not the villain in this story. While several board members resigned over my presence, the new board has treated me respectfully and fairly. For this, they too have been undeservedly targeted and harassed. It is the woke activists among the FCA’s member organizations who decided that canceling me was worth any cost, including sabotaging the mission they purported to care about furthering.
Was it everyone in the FCA? No, of course not. But as it always goes with the woke puritans, those who disagreed with their persecution kept their mouths shut. No one defended me publicly. Private emails to me expressing sorrow just aren’t good enough.
Was I surprised by this? Not really. The most vocal activists in this world are so firmly committed to woke ideology that they advocate for state laws that compel survivors to “honor the deceased's gender” and dress the dead in sartorial and linguistic drag whether the family wants this or not.
Domestic Abuse Has Gone Public
What causes the kind of derangement that results in this myopia? What could cause otherwise sane, good-hearted people to run a moral calculus in which burning me as a heretic outweighed all other moral imperatives? This is just another version of a question that many of us have asked in the last few years as we’ve watched woke ideology take over all our institutions, rotting them from within.
I believe part of the answer to this complicated question lies in the normalization of a type of psychology that drives domestic abuse known as Cluster B personality disorders. These include narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and anti-social personality disorder. The symptoms of these disorders are diverse and overlapping, and people with them engage in conflict, deception, abuse and mistreatment of others (almost always while claiming they themselves are victims).
These are more than “difficult people.” They are impossible, and often dangerous, people.
A quick glossary of the Cluster B disorders. There is a lot of overlap in symptoms among them:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder—self-centered, vain, may be a braggart or may be the type that acts like a very special put-upon victim. The world revolves around them, and others are objects to be used, not people to love or respect.
Borderline Personality Disorder—extreme emotional instability, laughing one minute, crying or screaming the next. Borderlines fear abandonment but engineer conflicts with everyone around them until they fulfill their own fear of being rejected. Think “I hate you/don't leave me.”
Histrionic Personality Disorder—Big emotions about everything all the time. Life events are over-dramatized. Minor disagreements become relationship-shattering cataclysms. Histrionics are often sexually seductive and go beyond flirtation in acting out for attention.
Anti-social Personality Disorder—also known as “sociopathy” or “psychopathy.” An absence of conscience or empathy. Antisocials lead a parasitic life draining money and time from others. Many are criminals. Others stay within the law but torment their families and colleagues to get what they want.
These dynamics are known drivers of domestic abuse, but they have now moved out of the home and into our institutions. They’re in our schools. They’re in our government. They’re in our media.
You know these people. They’re in your human resources department. They’re the caring and empathetic consumer advocates, like those who pushed me out of my career. They’re the social workers trying to wrest custody of your children away from you if you don’t agree to mutilate and sterilize their growing bodies.
I learned about these psychological abuse and cult tactics at my mother’s knee. If you know what it feels like to walk on eggshells around an explosive parent, you might be interested in the first article on the Disaffected Substack.
My brother, my sister, and I, were raised by a woman with both narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. If you want to know the kind of parent my mother was, imagine a cross between deranged actress Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest), and Carrie White’s religious fanatic mother, Margaret, in the horror movie “Carrie.” If you’ve seen the famous vignette in Mommie Dearest when Joan Crawford drags her daughter out of bed at midnight and fouls the room with scouring powder while shrieking at her scared child to “clean up this mess,” you have seen inside my childhood home. We weren’t bad children; we were abused, and much more severely and darkly than is appropriate for this story.
People from normal homes think such movies are “over the top” and “too ridiculous to be true.” They’re not.
This early trauma has given me valuable insight into the dynamics currently being normalized throughout society in the name of woke ideology.
We’ve all seen struggle sessions played out on social media when someone says something non-woke. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people jump to press the violator to recant. To kneel in humility. To confess their racism, their transphobia, their white privilege. Often, they kneel. They mouth the words. They “do the work.” They get their teeth kicked in anyway.
Struggle sessions are part and parcel of domestic abuse; persecutors demand apologies for thought crimes. The tormentors believe they see your evil motives accurately, and they’re going to make sure you purge your soul of this darkness whether you like it or not.
But, like with my mother, while it is they who do all shrieking, the lying, and the beating, it is you who are “troubled.”
Abusers are “victims,” their targets are “abusers.”
The Reality Cure
You know, you are the first person who’s told me the truth about this. You're the first one who talked to me like a grown-up who could handle it. My God, I feel better. Thank you.
I smiled at the phone. Janet had called the FCA because she couldn’t afford a “protective” casket for her mother. Protective caskets have a $12 rubber seal that mates the lid with the bottom (you pay hundreds extra, not $12).
“Janet, what can you protect a dead person from?” I asked. “Can they become less dead? Will keeping water out of the grave make them more comfortable? I understand your feelings and I don’t say this to be cruel to you, but this isn’t real, and I think you know that. Do you think you deserve to lose more sleep over your mother’s grave? Because I don't. I want you to sleep better tonight.”
This kind of honesty is a little risky, but nearly always results in a positive response. Working with the grieving taught me that white lies, euphemisms, and coy dodges about death that we think are “nice” are not very nice at all. They keep us infantilized, fearful.
This lesson helped me start the show Disaffected. It’s as candid and un-filtered about abusive psychology as I am about the economic and physical realities of death. Sure, it hurts in the moment to have the Band-Aid ripped off. But it’s only a moment, and the peace of mind that comes later is lasting.
“I stood there with my mouth open when you read that letter from Tim’s mother,” said one listener after a recent episode. “Tim” came to my coaching and consulting side hustle for an hour-long session. He wanted help figuring out whether and how to break contact with an abusive mother who was trying to influence his children. Tim agreed to allow me to record the session so others could learn. You can listen to it here:
It’s satisfying to help people connect the dots, to see them brace for, then accept, the truth. It stings at first. But you quickly understand that the truth is not a threat, it’s a lifeboat you can count on to bring you out of fog and confusion.
This is the same satisfaction I’ve had from helping distraught families lay down worries about bankrupting funeral costs so they can concentrate on what really matters. Honest feelings, honest grief, honest loss.
Get Off Our Platform Before You Kill Again
Just as I was wrapping up the job I lost to a cancellation mob, the meager income my podcast produced was slashed when Patreon banned me. Losing 90 percent of Disaffected’s revenue right before Christmas was bad enough. The smarmy, deceptively maternal tone from “Trust and Safety” at Patreon rubbed salt in the wound.
It also provides a powerful example of the Cluster B dynamics at play:
Notice the tone and cadence: I’m here to help. I’m friendly. I’m a calm, soothing teacher type who knows more than you, and all I want for you is the best. If you’ll only take my hand and come to learn how you’ve sinned, then we’ll love you again.
It’s repellent. Somehow, actual adults have been conditioned to accept an in loco parentis relationship with government and social media.
Who the hell put grown-ups back in kindergarten when no one was looking and arrogated to themselves the role of our daycare provider who teaches us our inside voices?
I don’t know anything about the Patreon employee who sent this, but I do know that it’s Cluster B rules:
Don’t think the thoughts you think, and certainly don’t think them in front of us
Don’t think the thoughts you think anywhere else, either
Don’t you dare ever say what you think if it might not be my favorite
If I don’t like what you do and say somewhere else in the world, I’m going to chase you down and silence you by extending my domain to swallow up what you think is yours
This isn’t normal, and it isn’t OK.
It is not normal for multi-national media platform companies to assess your moral worth by comparing it to their own politics, and then to chase you around the Internet to see if you “broke Mom's rules” somewhere else. It is not normal for society to decide that you get to be de-platformed, un-banked, un-jobbed, and (hopefully) “unhoused” for being a bad boy who gives back talk.
This is not part of any sane societal or social contract that most of us have ever signed. And the speed with which even highly perceptive people have taken this on board as the “new normal” scares me more than the bad actors behind it.
The High Cost of Being a Free Person
I am unemployable in my former field, leaving my show—Disaffected—as the only realistic option I have to support myself going forward. But there is a sense in which I am very lucky.
As a single, childless gay man, nobody but me is going to miss meals if push comes to shove. No innocent child will have to miss out on piano lessons or forego getting braces if I can’t support myself with my show going forward.
But I am a canary in the coal mines—as if we needed one more.
The regulatory announcement from the Federal Trade Commission was the pinnacle of a career. This was the highest goal someone in my shoes could reach for: Getting 330 million Americans the ability to control costs and stay solvent when they’ve lost someone to a death is very nearly the fulfillment of the entire reason Funeral Consumers Alliance was chartered and incorporated.
If the free speech of a gay man in America can result in what happened to me, then none of you are any safer.
I’ll be direct: Yes, I hope my story moves you to support my show and my work financially. If you are confused about what’s going on, if you can’t understand why people you loved and trusted seem like they’ve been replaced by animatronic copies—I can help you clear your mind.
Disaffected is an entrepreneurial endeavor, yep. As of January 1, it’s the only one I’ll have. But I believe in what I’m asking you to support. What I would have given back in the dark days of my dissolving relationship with my mother for something like what I try to do on Disaffected for everyone today.
Everyone who joins as a member gets exclusive access to articles and essays the general public doesn’t get. Our members get invited to monthly Zoom hangouts with me and the show’s producer. Those who give just a bit above the minimum get access to our private Discord chat.
And if you need customized advice, you can book time with me on my website.
If your wallet’s tight, I get it—mine’s pretty snug now too! Telling a friend about the show is a real help.
Whether you buy my “product” or not, there’s a wealth of free advice available to you in Disaffected’s back catalog. This week is our 100th show; there are 99 “TV-style” back episodes, and dozens of audio-only podcast installments.
For those new to the concepts in this article, I suggest two early episodes that give you the 101 on Cluster B, narcissistic abuse, and the connection between domestic abuse and public character assassination.
Speaking my mind in public and “on the air” has cost me almost everything, and it may yet cost me the rest.
I’d do it again. It’s worth it.
Like millions of abused children and spouses, my home life trained me to understand that I’d better smile and say “yes ma’am” if I knew what was good for me. Say yes to the lies. Say you like things you despise. Say it with a smile.
To hell with that.
If you’ve sensed that there’s something seriously and deeply wrong in our culture, you’re right. This isn’t a normal pendulum swing.
Domestic abuse has gone public.
If you want to understand what’s happening, why, and how you can protect your interests, I hope you’ll give Disaffected a try.