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Caveat Emptor

James Frey

To serve as a perfect example of the perils of yellow journalism and how it can undermine very good ideas, James Frey is now the poster child of religious cult cells and its indoctrination centers nationwide as how those other who don't follow Wilson's path are doomed.

To start with, I was reluctant to mention either Frey's name or provide Amazon links to his products while composing and finalizing my December 2005 Article. My suspicions at the time were well-founded: A prolific author heavily endorsed by the corporate-owned and subsidised mass media through Oprah Winfrey's seal of approval. An author whose own vulgarity-laden prose when compared with my own scribblings within The ARID Site make mine look damn near Shakespearean by comparison and definitely out of place amidst Oprah's other book picks. But the biggest thing which tipped me off, a gut feeling provided by my own conscience, were the exaggerations of someone who alleged to have hit some awfully deep bottoms and to come back from the brink despite the cult's dubious wisdom that he'd fall again.

Despite what his supporters-turned-apologists may claim, he did indeed take what he wanted and left the rest. In this case it would be the need for one to exaggerate their own trials and tribulations in life to match up with A.A.'s narrative as exemplified within its own speaker meetings. Certainly newcomers and outcasts could take solace in knowing that, just like in one of those A.A. "Sells", the emphasis is of a detailed description of one's journey through hell which was their former life. Only through salvation through A.A. and redemption through action by becoming a supporter and recruiter for the cult itself was evidence of their abstinence (nevermind if that person gets high while a member of the cult of course, since "relapse" is a normal part of being "in recovery"). And likewise, the more deplorable and horrific the speaker's former life was before their cult involvement the more miraculous their recovery appeared to be. And he peddled and peddled until a publisher saw gold in that turd. And thus, blinded by the bucks, the publisher published Frey's scribblings without even bothering with the need for fact-checking. After all, that would cost money...and they couldn't have that!

Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces, is nothing more than one poorly-written and long-winded A.A. "Sell"...but with one difference: The author claimed to be against A.A. and its practices. And yet he's giving his own "Sell" right there in print! Once his prose was in the free marketplace of ideas did he think that his story would sell just on its merits alone? Did he even stop to consider that someone out there would examine the claims made within his text? 'fraid not. He's a long way from the cult of unquestioning personality from which he graced his ugly presence.

It took one of my favorite websites, The Smoking Gun, a website which details true crime by actually obtaining and presenting official law enforcement records, to expose the exaggerations and outright lies of Frey's fantasy. When it came to such an impeccable website versus a mere hack's storyline, originally peddled as a fiction-based novel according to The Nation magazine ("Truth, Fiction and Frey", February 13, 2006) and not as a memoir, authentic journalism prevailed as the facts were finally checked. When police records couldn't be found and Frey's arresting officers couldn't corroborate the testimony within his book, the knot of Frey's narrative frayed like an old shoestring.

The recovery group movement and its business arm, the addiction treatment industry, was enthusiastic for this rare opportunity to give its own tainted image a little polish outside of its own other media promotion. Within the same commentary within The Nation a fallacious claim of honesty-through-authority was given for Hazelden counselors by default. After all, who better would be so-called experts on addiction such as them, the spearheads of a billion-dollar industry based in fear, paranoia, self-doubt and coercion? Surely they wouldn't lie. My goodness! That would be unethical! And now, with dollar signs within their collective eyes, these very same dimwits are now suing Frey just because they were stupid enough to buy into the same A.A. "Sell" as presented in Frey's book.

The corporate owned and subsidised mass media has a scandal in their midst. It's big news! An author, a former addict and criminal, is a liar! He claims he's reformed but gee...all the lying! Oh, pity on the millions who went to the store or online, traded some of their dollars for some pulp, and wound up later finding that he exaggerated or even fabricated an entire storyline. But nevermind that no one put a gun to the gullible public's head to force them to buy such titallating trifle. "THAT BOOK CAN HURT PEOPLE!", thus proclaims the clarion call of the mass media "news" harpies when it itself has run aground of journalistic ethics in light of its own transgressions through the decades. "INNOCENT PEOPLE IN RECOVERY CAN BE HARMED" has now and always has been the official Hazelden/NCADD/NIAAA/A.A./NA/etc. slogan when even its own collective consciousness can't even bring about its so-called claims to "rigorous honesty" through its own circle-jerk posturing and deeply-rooted fear and the defensiveness which ensues when its true believers are posed with the following line of inquiry:

"What is your plan regarding your future use of alcohol/drugs? In light of what you've done and been through, are you going to drink/use again in this lifetime or not?"

The pattern is typical: Instead of taking full responsibility and living down past stupidity by actually making a conscious choice to not be so stupid as to make the same stupid choice again we now have an idiot nation comprised of professional victims playing the pied piper. And the brainwashed masses lap it up like the fattened-yet-ever-hungry McSows that they are. And boy will they buy and consume all varieties of shit as long as it makes them appear moral. Hey, nevermind that it's stinky and tastes awful! Everyone is consuming it and, to fit in, so should you! You're not mentally ill, are you?

Instead of recognizing their own stupidity into buying and consuming such nonsense, Frey's apologists in the form of recovery group bootlickers posing as "alternatives" to A.A. are now in full-blown conspiracy mode. Like Hillary Clinton liberally whining about the the threat of a vast right-wing conspiracy (there is no right-wing conspiracy) against her scumbag dog of a husband, the sycophantic suck-ups are wondering who would be against someone as innocent as Frey? My goodness! He's just another harmless fuzzball! He's made some mistakes in his life and is therefore entitled to keep making more! Besides, to be against someone like Frey, someone who is allegedly against A.A. and recovered in spite of that cult, is to be a friend to A.A. And we don't want to lose out on our access to the secular crumbs who fall and hit bottom from A.A.'s religious dinnertable.

Just like Donald Lee's delusions of a mass-orchestrated movement of gangstalkers, in lieu of his claim that there's some "truth" within the Twelve Steps, it's never the obvious fact that Frey lied about certain details in his story. Instead of realizing that they've been had they cling onto the illusion that Frey ever had any credibility to begin with. And thus, from one "victim" comes many. And the recovery group movement and its business arm, the addiction treatment industry, keeps that splinter forever twitching within their own collective consciousness. It's from the apologists where A.A. derives its power not through hard science but through the fallacies of longevity and novelty. It can point out that these other groups are simply that: Impostors in lieu of the "real thing".

Now I'm not denying that abuse occurs within the fraud known as "addiction treatment". Far better books have been written on that subject. What's amazing to me is that nobody, not from the publisher of Frey's book right on down to the crumbsucking media stringers and wannabes have even bothered to check any of the so-called "facts" within Frey's pulp fiction. The exaggeration of his criminal exploits severely undermines what may be an actual insider eyewitness account of abuse and neglect within Hazelden. Of course, as the corporate owned and subsidised mass media storyline of this scandal plays out, if he lied about himself who knows what else he lied about.

It took a small website, one which certainly no one else knew of outside of the 'net, to ask questions and seek answers to those questions. And now, instead of being seen for what it is the recovery movement charlatans en masse, from the oldtimer multi-decade Buchmanite true-believer right on down to the self-recovered Ellis-worshipping atheist, all preaching the same disease/psychological theoretical nonsense of what addiction is with only a secular or spiritual label for differentiation, is now seen as a pariah.

And that's the funny thing about truthtellers and whistleblowers: Ultimately they are the ones who are vilified while the real scoundrels, from pulp-pushing Frey, the publisher of Frey's pulp, the media harpie who gave it its seal of approval, the boob-tube swindlers whose ultimate product is as vacuous as the inside of a CRT tube, the advertisers who pay for ad placement alongside which programming is deemed "popular" by a handful of useful idiots, advertisers as slick as the addiction treatment industry through its front groups with the power and tyranny of Big Government and true-believer zealots in tow, laugh with their evil compatriots all the way to the bank. This is no hour-long episode of Columbo. This is reality. The bad guys get away again as the nattering nabobs squabble, here and abroad, over more crumbs.

Frey is the victim of his own egotism: A media-inflicted death inflicted by his own hand. It was he who wanted to be famous with some books to his name. The interesting times he's living within now are a result of not of what he wanted but of what he deserved. He could have quit at any time but chose not to.

"Oh, you stupid thing", as the song plays again. Now Frey has to take responsibility now for his own actions. This isn't a mere ethical hiccup. He has damaged the idea of self-recovery from addiction though his own avarice and that deserves unbridled scorn not just towards him but towards his apologists as well.

Back to the Caveat Emptor page.


First posted 2006/02/02

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Quotes are attributed to their appropriate sources.
E-mail policy: If I feel it's outrageous enough in an informative sense I'll publish it at my own discretion.

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