Tim Engbrecht wrote:I stumbled across the Fouche’s video several months back—and for almost 12 hours, I felt the sort of hollow disappointment we feel when a public leader gets caught up in a scandal.
While I’ve never met him, and live in a different country, I’ve been enriched by the generosity of Paul’s online content for the better part of 10 years now; and yet through a SINGLE VIDEO—posted by a couple I don’t know AT ALL, and which contained almost NO SPECIFIC INFORMATION—I found myself being bent towards the conclusion that Paul was engineering the next Waco or Heaven’s Gate cult(!).
THANKFULLY, I didn’t just allow the dark fears and suspicions ignited by the Fouche’s video to win the day. I dug a little deeper, read Paul’s response (in this thread), sifted through many comments and responses on BOTH sites, and even reached out to Paul directly in order to find some answers that would settle whether I would steer clear of Permies or the Fouches in the future.
None of this makes me a first-hand witness, however I would ask anyone who is reading this post to consider the following:
1) The Fouche’s video was NOT an impulsive, off-the-cuff response to a disappointing experience at Wheaton Labs; it was a calculated attempt to destroy Paul’s credibility and his livelihood. If you watch it AFTER reading Paul’s description of his exchanges with Nick and Esther during the event in question, it plays VERY differently.
2) It was DESIGNED to lead viewers to the conclusion that Paul was running some sort of cult—but without saying the words directly—(perhaps to avoid accusations of libel?) …and yet this is a bizarrely implausible suggestion: Cult leaders CONTROL INFORMATION—they don’t go to extraordinary lengths to facilitate dialogue, explore divergent opinions, and establish incredible online forums dedicated to the free exchanges of ideas!
3) The Fouche’s video relies almost entirely on innuendo and an appeal to trust the Fouche's judgement in their indictment of Paul. Again, by failing to provide any specific claims, evidence, or other corroboration (besides “there is a locked gate”), and by saying “of course this is only our opinion”—the Fouches appear to be conscious of libel laws, and are trying to do as much damage as possible without actually saying something that could be called out as a blatant lie.
4) The Fouches, who are building a YouTube channel in order to finance their own family’s private homesteading venture, benefit financially from the controversy they have generated, directed at the most popular Permaculture website on the planet. I do not have insight into their motives, but NO ONE should be able to publicly assassinate another person's character without evidence. It is unfathomable to me that the Nick and Esther spent a week (or more?) at Wheaton Labs posting videos for their YouTube followers, and yet when they decided to slander Paul and suggest he is up to no good, they have no substantial evidence(video OR otherwise), but lean on "trust us!". It doesn't make sense; Paul's explanation DOES.
Please READ the comments on both websites regarding this issue and make an informed judgement about who you think has better EARNED your trust. My own conclusion is that the Fouches have a loyal online following of largely sincere Christian folks who believe they share values in common, but who do not actually KNOW Nick and Esther personally. Nick and Esther have asserted that they are building their homestead completely alone, WITHOUT physical community. It is much easier to control your public image if that image is generated exclusively by videos you shoot and edit yourself.
In contrast, Paul Wheaton is a VERY PUBLIC FIGURE, hosting workshops, posting online seminars, and traveling extensively to spread information concerning Permaculture and its capacity to make positive changes to the planet and in its human communities. He is a brash, sarcastic, unapologetic bull-in-a-china-shop—and yet people STILL choose to be around him! My suspicion that he is a big teddy-bear who gets hurt deeply by this sort of ‘public hanging’ has been confirmed in the handful of email exchanges I have had with him since reaching out to set my own mind at ease about what the Fouche’s video was really all about.
I hesitate to involve myself in this sort of online discussion, which so often degenerates into name-calling and character assassination, but my conscience compels me in this case.
Thank-you to Paul for his restraint in NOT resorting to mud-slinging and “lowest-common-denominator” human behavior in response to this attack on his character. I have never in all of my years seen you “shut down” reasonable discourse or assassinate someone else’s character for ANY reason—never mind in the absence of substantive evidence.
It is SO much easier to destroy something than to build it—I suspect we all remember what it feels like to have our sandcastle stomped on by another child when we were younger. We appear to live in an age where people actually acquire followers and gain money by stomping on sand castles.
I hope that some of the Fouches' followers, many of whom seem to be sympathetic to a religious/Christian world-view (judging by the comments on their site), decide to hold Nick and Esther to a higher standard and call them out for the malicious slander they have flung at Paul in this video. I believe their scriptures say something about "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"...
My highest respect to you, Paul.
paul wheaton wrote:Thanks to Dilbert, I learn that this sort of thing is not that uncommon
Believe me it is so painstakingly hard to like people! I used to love them “All”, but as grew older I became painfully aware that might just be a pipe dream, but Hey! You can cull the ass wipes and find your true friends! And God only knows that we are extremely fortunate if we can have one or two true friends in life! That makes us the blessed, fortunate ones! Cull the rest, just remember to be kinda socially “nice” & polite! Do you want to be socially correct? Yea me either but I try it from time to time.... most people are just in a heard of other “sheep”. And by golly I am going to be the shepherd- so are you! I can tell
Daniel Morse wrote:Paul,, as my one grandmother would say, "I am too busy to attend to silly people." She would smile and me and do as good people do, carry on. This whole thing I have watched from afar. Why? I have stuff to do. Carry on big guy and it will fade away. Good luck man.
nancy sutton wrote:Re: Tim's point, I think he's on to something. Esther got published (2016)... an autobiography, put out by a 'Christian' label (perhaps it paid for the new house that got them out of the yurt.). In it, she shares her betrayal of her husband and 'spiritual transformation'. It seems she's still in the 'back stabbing' mode and the 'transformation' was pretty shallow - I feel for her husband. I'm sure the classic 'click bait' worked, and she's been counting the YT cash. (Some people give God a bad name, IMO)
Thank God (truly) that we have Paul, doing actual good ;)
Casie Becker wrote:I'm tempted to thumbs up this post, except I don't see a need to support bad behavior. You're putting a more positive spin on this than my understanding of it. In my experience, the only behavior that's too unbearable to handle politely for a couple of weeks, would also be so bad that I wouldn't have been staying for the PDC.
I felt like the money I spent just to spend a few days at the lab last summer was well spent, even without the added value of a PDC. I didn't see signs that anyone was being exploited or undercompensated for time they spent working on your projects.
Perhaps you inadvertently hit on an emotion trigger of Esther's and after she exploded the rest of the problems were caused by them vainly trying to justify her initial reaction. In such a situation, having a solid and justifiable complaint against you may have been easier for everyone concerned. Otherwise, every level of petty ridiculousness would add to their discomfort and embarrassment. Unfortunately that's a self perpetuating problem. Particularly as they keep digging that hole.
Jennifer Lowery wrote:It's April 19th in zone 6b/7a (Tulsa, Oklahoma). If I start them should I plant against the west fence so they are shaded from afternoon sun? I can use fence and nails/string as trellis. I heard they don't like the heat and well it gets hot here at times even in spring.. like it was 92F around april 1st.. I know cray cray.