Since originally writing this post, I have written this post here. I’ve moved on from battling with people who are looking to pick a good fight. I stand by everything I wrote below, but since then I have realized the futility of critically engaging people who subvert respectful communication for personal attack. My open response to sympathy and support is a much better reflection of my evolving understanding of how I wish to focus my time and energy.
As some of my regular readers know, I recently penned a post called 15 Minutes where I detailed the recent events surrounding my article on FEE and Newsweek. In that post, I offered a personal statement about my aim and agenda in sharing the story. For the most part, everyone has been tremendously positive and supportive. To my surprise, I’ve received some very encouraging messages and calls from police officers and people who are family members of police officers. Some of those messages and calls have led to some interesting and insightful discussion for both parties. But as we all know, every story has its detractors. I’ve been accused of making up my story by some. Most of those accusers, however, have just been trolls who call me names and say nothing else. This weekend, however, one Mitchell Boone has decided to write a post called “T.K. Coleman Is Full Of Shit.” There are some who have advised me to not waste my time writing him. I’m choosing to respond to his post, however, because I want my rebuttals to his arguments on the record. Judging from what strikes me as a very presumptuous style of reasoning on Mitchell’s part, I don’t expect to convince him of anything. I highly doubt if there’s anything I could say that’s going to make him back down from his claims. So this response from me is going to be a complement piece to my 15 minutes piece for those who wish to hear what I have to say regarding some of the objections one might raise against my story.
Before I dissect Mitchell’s article, I want to be clear about one very important thing: I do not think it is unreasonable for someone to be skeptical of another person’s story. All of us have personal stories that are difficult to prove to people who don’t know us or to people who don’t have access to the same facts and experiences we have. So I completely understand and respect anyone who chooses to suspend judgment regarding my claims about the experience my wife and I had. But there is a difference between suspending judgment and just lazily assuming that someone is a liar merely because you don’t have access to all the facts. Mitchell Boone is not a mere skeptic with sincere doubts about the truth of my story. He is a man who claims to be able to prove that I am a liar who fabricated the entire story. His official position is *not* “we can never be sure if T.K. Coleman is telling the truth.” He takes a much stronger stance than that. His actual position is that I am a liar who made up the story in a deliberate and dishonest effort to play the victim. His entire article is one giant attempt to discredit my story based on his theory that I am “full of sh*t” as the title of his article says. So it’s very important to note that Mitchell has a strong burden of proof to bear. Why? Because as Carl Sagan once said, “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” In other words, if we’re not sure about something, we should just admit that we’re not sure and leave it at that. We should never adopt conspiracy theories as the default response to a lack of information. When in doubt, a good critical thinker should simply refuse to make any assumptions either way. Instead of suspending judgment, Mitchell took the bold and bodacious route by presenting himself as if he possessed strong arguments to prove I was lying when I shared my story.
Since Mitchell has shared the link to his article on my FB thread, one commenter pointed this out to him in a clear fashion:
Mitchell, the burden of proof is on you. You’re the one who has decided this has to be false for whatever reasons you think you have. The rest of us, who have no clue, one way or the other, if this is true or not can live with that. Personally, I don’t see anything far-fetched about it (a sad commentary in its own right!) But you decided to challenge T.k’s story, so it’s up to you to prove him wrong.
You claimed to do just that, but what you really actually did was waste my time as you clumsily compared his story to movies and screenwriters you seemingly don’t like… The only question you raised with me is do you get out much?
Notice how the commenter makes no assumption either way. He seems to maintain an open mind in both directions. He admits that he has no clue one way or the other. Yet he understands that a reasonable person doesn’t automatically assume that someone is a liar just because their story is difficult to prove.
So let’s see if Mitchell backs up any of his claims. I predict that Mitchell will try to take the easy way out by trying to keep everyone’s attention focused on the fact that I can’t prove my story, but this will be a problem for him for two reasons:
- In every single instance where I have shared my story, I have been very upfront about the fact that I can’t prove it. All I have ever asked is that people read it with an open mind. So there’s nothing new or revelatory about merely repeating what I’ve already said long before Mitchell wrote his attack-piece. But here’s the most important point….
- My inability to prove my story does *not* let Mitchell off the hook. If Mitchell wishes to remain logically consistent with his belief that people should back up what they say with evidence, then he needs to prove his point if he wishes to be taken seriously when he accuses me of lying. As I’ve already pointed out, he had the option of suspending judgment but he chose to forego that option in his overly ambitious quest to provide evidence of conspiracy. Since that is the position he chose, he needs to be held to the same standard that he loves to invoke when he gleefully attacks others. Without any difficulty whatsoever, I will hold him to that standard and I will demonstrate the utter irrationality of every single claim he makes in his article. Every single one. Every. Single. One.
You can read Mitchell’s article in full via the link I posted above. Since this is a point by point response to *every* criticism of my story that he raised, this will be a lengthy read. I could have opted for concision, but I chose to prioritize thoroughness over brevity because I didn’t want to leave a single point unaddressed. I leave no stone unturned in this rebuttal. For every single issue he raised, I provide a counterpoint. For clarity, I have put his statements in italics and my responses follow each time I quote him.
Part I. Mitchell’s litany of failed efforts to disqualify my story based on personal opinions that have nothing to do with my story
T.K. Coleman refers to himself as a philosopher and life coach. Strike one and two.
So Mitchell begins by penalizing me with two strikes merely for the labels I use in my bio to refer to my profession. He never explains why he has a problem with my use of those labels. He simply equates his combination of mockery and casual dismissal with a refutation of some sort. This is actually a pattern in his whole diatribe and I will point that out as I go along. Since I have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and get paid for giving lectures on the subject, one would think I’d have a legitimate basis for describing myself in such a manner. For the record, I never described myself as a *great* philosopher. I merely identified it as part of my professional occupation. I even wrote a blog post explaining why I choose to call myself a philosopher. You can read it here if you’d like. Moreover, since a part of my job is to help people use the tools of philosophy to achieve their goals through 1-on-1 coaching, it would again seem that I have a legitimate basis for using my actual job description in my bio. Nevertheless, Mitchell feels the need to begin his critque of my story by giving me two strikes for accurately describing what I do for a living. He never explains what the problem is. And this is coming from a man who claims to be tired of people who say things without backing them up with evidence.
His story is terribly long-winded and plays out like a deleted scene from Paul Haggis’ laughably absurd Academy Award winning film Crash (2004).
Although Mitchell refers to my story as being “terribly long-winded,” that certainly didn’t stop him from reading the entire thing, arguing with people on my Facebook page about my story, writing a long blog post about me, and then coming back to my FB page to share the link so everyone could see it. Nevertheless, even if my story is “terribly long-winded,” that unfortunate fact about my writing style says nothing whatsoever about the truth or falsity of my story. A story isn’t automatically false just because it’s long-winded nor is a story automatically true just because it’s a concise and interesting read. Furthermore, regarding his claim that my story plays out like a deleted scene from Crash, this is another criticism of my writing style that says nothing either way about the truth value of the claims I make. So while Mitchell seems to feel very passionate about critiquing my skillfulness (or lack thereof) as a writer, none of his opinions about the aesthetic qualities of my writing should be mistaken as evidence for or against the truthfulness of my story.
But hang in there, because at the end of his fairytale, I’m going to pull it apart like a perfectly cooked chicken.
As we shall see very shortly, Mitchell ends up pulling apart nothing more than his own straw-man version of who I am, what I wrote, and why I wrote it.
So after inaccurately quoting my story (we’ll get to his crucial inaccuracy in just a moment), Mitchell displays a photo that he took from my Facebook page of me drinking a Cola. The caption reads: “Here, how about a nice bottle of White Guilt?”
I suppose this is Mitchell’s effort at being humorous and philosophical both at the same time. We’ll get to his theory about white guilt and my supposed quest to gain street cred soon. But it’s important to point out that this is characteristic of Mitchell’s preference for using a combination of mockery and casual dismissal as a substitute for real argumentation when attempting to pull apart my story. If Mitchell uses labels like “white guilt” as a way to stereotype people who find my story to be plausible, then it can’t possibly be true, right? As we take a look at Mitchell’s critique, however, let’s make sure we focus on his arguments. After all, he makes it very clear throughout his essay that he cares very deeply about evidence. So we should be sure to hold him to such a standard.
Jesus Christ, this guy is more in love with his own words than Quentin Tarantino. And just as fucking tedious.
And just when you probably thought we’d get to an actual argument, the very next thing Mitchell provides us with is another style-based criticism of my writing. While I am not, in fact, in love with my own words, one can only wonder why Mitchell seems to think there is some kind of correlation between the truth-value of my claims and the attitude I have towards my writing skills. Even if we all agree that T.K. Coleman is a terrible tedious writer who thinks way too highly of his abilities, this observation says nothing whatsoever about the truth or falsity of my claims.
But the thing that bothers me the most is that he presents this ridiculous story as fact.
As much as this seems to bother Mitchell, it’s actually a very common and normal practice for people to talk about their personal experiences as if they are facts. After all, that’s what personal experiences are: they are facts about a person’s life. While Mitchell is free to suspend belief about the truth of my story, it would probably save him some heartache to be aware of this longstanding human tradition of sharing our experiences with one another as if they are actually experiences.
That should have been enough to send readers running away in fits of laughter,
And although Mitchell presents himself as someone who really believes what he’s saying here, it’s worth noting that his actual reaction is the exact opposite of what he thinks other people’s response should be. Rather than run away laughing at what he claims to believe is a silly story not worth taking seriously, he dedicated a significant amount of his time and energy to researching my background, searching for information about my wife, and writing a lengthy blog post about me. Moreover, he voluntarily chooses to take my story so seriously that he treats it as if it’s important enough to pose some kind of threat to harmonious relations between the police and the general public. So if it’s okay for Mitchell to give so much time and energy to my story, I would think he’d find it at least somewhat understandable as to why others would do the same for their own reasons.
but this is one of those perfectly weighed and measured stories that people want to believe.
Even if this is a story that people badly want to believe, that doesn’t automatically make my story false. Sometimes the things we want to believe are true and sometimes they’re not. The truth exists independently of what people do or don’t want to believe. Simply pointing out that people *want* the story to be true is, once again, an observation that says nothing either way about the truth value of my claims. The faulty logic Mitchell is employing here works both ways. There are people who badly want my story to be false. Does that automatically make the story true? Of course it doesn’t. The truth is neither proven or negated by what people want to believe so this is really an irrelevant point.
And when people want to believe, there is no stopping them from drinking from the Bullshit Fountain.
So Mitchell is assuming that people only believe my story because they badly want to believe it. Should people assume that Mitchell attacks my story only because he doesn’t want it to be true? This is the kind of problem that arises when you attack someone’s claims solely based on the psychological theories you create about the people who believe them.
Part II. Mitchell’s credibility shredding argument
But let me just jump right into his 10-foot-deep pool of bullshit and point out a few glaring holes.
Finally. Mitchell, are you sure you don’t want to take another paragraph to talk about how terrible of a writer I am?
Although he opens his story with, “On Friday night, my wife and I were driving through a small town on the way to a comedy club in Manhattan Beach, California. We were going to hang out and share a few laughs. On the way, we were pulled over by the police.”, a simple Google search of his name led me to another website where he told a much tamer version of the story, way back in April of 2013:
Let’s just stop right here for a moment and address Mitchell’s critical distortion of my story. Mitchell quotes me as saying “On Friday night…”
Here’s the problem with that: What I *actually* wrote was “One Friday night.” Mitchell rightly anticipates the fact that I was going to call him on this misrepresentation of my words, so he tries to cover his tracks by accusing me of changing the story. Let’s take a look at his own words:
But I had a few of my own predictions. One being that he would simply write off the timeline discrepancy as acceptable artistic license – I didn’t say it happened THIS past Friday. Okay, fair enough. But what about the fact that since the original story was posted, he made a pretty significant edit to the original post? Originally it read, “On Friday night…” but now it reads “One Friday night….”
So Mitchell clearly accuses me of originally writing “On Friday night” and then going back to change the words to “One Friday night” as a way of avoiding the discrepancy he thinks he sees. I have two things to say about this:
1) Notice how Mitchell provides no evidence that I actually made the change he accuses me of making. He simply accuses me of changing the story and he expects the reader to take his word for it. This is coming from the same man who pokes fun of people who believe my story based on testimony. Is this not a clear example of logical inconsistency?
2) More importantly, I can clearly demonstrate that what Mitchell accuses me of is false. Unfortunately for Mitchell, Facebook is specifically designed to make it very easy to settle disputes like this. Facebook actually keeps track of the history of edits that were made on a post. So if I had edited my post in the way he accuses me, we would see it reflected on Facebook. Below I have presented screen shots of my post where it shows the history of edits on my post. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just go look at the actual post for yourself. You’ll see at the top of my post, an indicator that the post is “edited.” Click on that word and it’ll show you exactly what I’m depicting here. My post is public and my edit history for the post is visible for all to see. After looking at these screenshots please read my argument that follows.
As you can see from my screenshot images, my settings allow anyone to see what edits I made. It clearly says “This is visible to anyone who can see this post.” You can see that I did indeed edit my post, but you can see exactly what those edits are by comparing any changes with the original post that’s depicted in the first screenshot. If you look at the screenshots, you’ll see that none of those edits show a version of my story that begins with “On Friday…”
If I had ever written the words “On Friday” at any point, it would show up in my edit history. Had I changed my story from “On Friday” to “One Friday” as Mitchell accuses me of doing, the editing history would bear witness to that. And just for the record, Facebook doesn’t allow you to delete your history of edits. Once you edit a post, it shows the history of all prior versions. In case you’re skeptical, here’s a quote from the Facebook help page explaining how this works:
After editing a post, how can i erase / hide edit history?
You can’t. They do that because when you allow edits and don’t show history, there is a problem with people posting things they shouldn’t, waiting till people reply and call them on it, then changing the original post and denying that they said it. That is very disruptive in groups and pages. And it leads to a lot of problems for people on personal pages, too. You can always chose to delete a comment and repost it instead of editing it if you don’t want changes to show.
On this Facebook help page, another contributor points out the same thing:
Facebook tried all the various possibilities in regard to allowing people to edit their posts. And the data analytic tools that they use demonstrated to them that the current set up is the right one, which is to allow people to clarify their meaning and make changes when a commercial offer or ad is not involved.
But when the Edit Option is available on a post, it’s best that the edits are transparent so that people don’t get into various fruitless arguments over what was said and what had not been said.
In other words, Facebook rightly anticipated that people would have disputes over what was or wasn’t said, so they made it impossible for someone to edit their post without other people being able to see what was originally written. The only way to hide your edits is to delete the post (Given the date of the post & the timeline of comments, it’s obvious that I didn’t do this).
I repeat: Do NOT take my word for it. Go look at the editing history of the post for yourself. This is independently verifiable. If Mitchell ever tries to skirt the issue by saying “he photoshopped the pictures” or “there’s something sketchy going on here,” you will be able to look for yourself without relying on the screenshots. This is pretty blatant, straightforward, and undeniable.
You can view the post for yourself here.
Is this a moot point? Am I making much ado about nothing? Not at all. Here’s why: Mitchell is undermining his own credibility by distorting my actual words in an effort to make me look dishonest. He accuses me of making a shady editing move as a basis for demonstrating my alleged duplicity. As you can see, however, his accusation contradicts the empirical data that you can look at for yourself. So not only does he contradict himself by expecting you to take his word for it when he mocks other people for doing that very thing, but he contradicts the hard fact of what I actually wrote. He’s not pulling apart any chickens folks. He’s distorting facts in a dishonest effort to discredit my story.
If Mitchell had only accused me of saying “On Friday night,” I could easily chalk it up as a misreading of the text. Such a minor mistake would be understandable. But Mitchell doesn’t merely misread my words. He falsely accuses me of changing the words in order to avoid discrepancy. That’s intellectually dishonest. And as you can see from the counter evidence I provided, it’s blatantly false.
For the record, I want to point out a crucial element of my accusation here: When i accuse Mitchell of fabricating a story, I provided independently verifiable empirical evidence that makes it impossible for Mitchell’s conspiracy to be true. I am not merely appealing to possibilities based on what I can and cannot imagine happening. I am not merely assuming that Mitchell is lying because of his ethnicity or political beliefs. I am not merely assuming that Mitchell is lying because of any psychological theories I have about him. I am not merely assuming that Mitchell is lying because I have a deep emotional desire for him to be wrong. My accusation is much stronger than that. I have proven with conclusive data that Mitchell was literally making things up when he accused me of going back to change the first word of my post in order to eliminate a timeline discrepancy. His attack on my story is rooted in a lie. This is a desperate and dishonest move by Mitchell that should not be brushed aside.
- “You haven’t proven anything with your stupid little screenshots. Anyone can make absurdities appear true by manipulating photos or posting fishy screenshots.”
This objection is dead in the water because the reader can see for themselves here. The screenshots are a convenience, but my argument is still irrefutable even if you completely ignore the screenshots.
2. “I’m sure you’re covering things up. You probably hid or deleted your editing history.”
This objection is just as hopeless as the first one. Since the reader can view the post for themselves, they can see that the settings are public. It says so on the post. Moreover, you can’t selectively delete edits on Facebook because their site doesn’t even allow. The only way to hide your edit history is by deleting your post or by making the post private. This is something you can go try for yourself.
3. “This seems suspicious. You must’ve pulled a fast one. You did something fishy here and I’m going to figure it out.”
Just take a moment and think about what this kind of statement means. Anyone who says this sort of thing is basically saying “I have no legitimate counterargument for the irrefutable evidence you provided, but I refuse to acknowledge it as a fact because I don’t like the way it makes me feel. So I’m going to dedicate my life to figuring out what you did wrong. And if I never find any evidence that contradicts what you’ve proven, then I’ll just keep ignoring your point because it conflicts with my assumption that you *must* be wrong.”
Well, once you’re done with your quest to make the facts go away, let me know what you come up with. I’ll be here. And do you know what else will be here? The irrefutable evidence that Mitchell Boone entangled himself in a lie by trying a little too hard to uncover a scandal when there wasn’t a scandal to be uncovered.
4. “Humbug! Nonsense! You still haven’t proven your story. This is all a big distraction.”
It’s funny how something is considered to be of the utmost important when it seems to support what you want to believe. But as soon as someone proves it to be false, it magically becomes unimportant. Here’s the deal: Mitchell accused me of changing my story because he thought it was a very important point. He tried to use it as an argument for my dishonesty. So if it was important enough for him to bring it up, it’s important enough for me to expose the deception behind it. If Mitchell sincerely believed that this point was a distraction, he wouldn’t have made such a big deal about the issue. This was his own undoing. He painted himself into a corner and he doesn’t get to conveniently say “it’s a distraction” just because his argument backfired.
Part III: Mitchell’s Forced Efforts to Catch Me in a Contradiction
Now that I’ve pointed out one of his contradictions, let’s return to his other arguments:
Although he opens his story with, “On Friday night, my wife and I were driving through a small town on the way to a comedy club in Manhattan Beach, California. We were going to hang out and share a few laughs. On the way, we were pulled over by the police.”, a simple Google search of his name led me to another website where he told a much tamer version of the story, way back in April of 2013:
Actually, a simple Google search can do even better than that. It can take you back to the original date my story was first referenced which is November 8, 2012. That’s much closer to my actual statement that the story is almost three years old. The link to that interview is here. The article Mitchell references was a repost from the interviewer’s personal website. It’s the same interview, but I’ll post the link to that one as well so you can see for yourself. The link to the April 2013 repost is here. In fact, long before Mitchell used Google to discover this interview, the interviewer reposted it on his Facebook page less than 24hrs after I wrote my post on Facebook. In the description for the post he writes:
TK sharing this story recently in more detail reminded me of this excellent interview. Some excellent stuff in here about maintaining perspective, and staying optimistic without living in denial.
You can see the link to that post here.
So what Mitchell is pointing out here is already something we’ve publicly acknowledged and have never been secretive about. Mitchell is late to the party. Although Mitchell seems to think this is some kind of “gotcha” moment, he’s only proving that he didn’t use Google thoroughly enough in his effort to research my story. In fact, I already covered this issue in my article’s introductory remarks:
“For almost three years, I’ve mostly held it in. But it’s become clear to me that it’s time to give a more detailed account to a broader audience.”
So as I said in the article, I’ve *mostly* held it in for three years and now it was time to give *a more detailed account* to a broader audience. So it would make sense if someone found a less detailed version of the story published almost three years ago. There’s nothing special about that. But let me provide a little context here. When this incident first happened, I told my good friend Isaac Morehouse about it. We’ve been friends for over a decade. He was the best man at my wedding. When I told him about the incident, he was mostly surprised by my refusal to become a bitter person because of what happened to us. Although I was shaken up by the whole experience, I didn’t want to allow the negativity of a couple of bad cops to “steal my fire.” He felt so inspired by that determination that he suggested we do an interview where I tell my story and talk about my philosophy of optimism. At the time, I requested we keep the story part brief and focus more on the philosophy side of things. As anyone can see from the interview, my focus was primarily on promoting a philosophy of self-reliance in spite of the negative things that happen to us. Almost three years later, after the experience has been much more thoroughly processed, I decided to share more details about my story. It was partly inspired by some of the things I’ve heard people say in recent debates about the police. It was also largely inspired by my desire to inspire and encourage people who have gone through similar things. So, yes, there is a less detailed version of my story that can be found online from almost three years ago and that fact is perfectly consistent with what I said in my introduction.
I’m sure when he originally dropped this story, he figured it was dramatic enough to garner some attention. But when that didn’t happen, I guess he decided to punch it up a bit, add some salty racist dialog, then re-launch it almost three years later on his own blog and social media, and sit back and watch the fireworks. Good job, T.K., your prediction was spot-on.
Bad job, Mitchell. Your efforts at mind-reading have failed again. Let’s look at the tactic that’s being employed here: In keeping with his pattern, Mitchell chooses to construct psychological theories about why I do what I do and then he proceeds to use his own psychological speculations as if its some kind of evidence that what I wrote is untrue. It would be one thing if Mitchell had only written, “Hey maybe this guy is telling the truth or maybe he’s lying. I can’t say either way. I wasn’t there. I never met him. I have no basis for trusting him since we have no personal relationship. So I’m going to do the rational thing here and suspend judgment.” But apparently, that would be too mild for Mitchell’s more provocative taste. Instead of suspending judgment about something he can neither verify or falsify, he chooses to just assume I’m lying and then comes up with psychological theories about why I’m lying. I may not be a philosopher in Mitchell’s eyes, but I certainly know the meaning of the term “Psychogenetic Fallacy” and Mitchell is making heavy use of it here.
I explained my motives and agenda in a personal statement I wrote on my personal blog. If you’re interested in going beyond Mitchell’s conspiracy theories about what motivates me, you can read my own words and judge for yourself.
I think it’s also important to note the discrepancy in the timeline of the incident itself. He says that they were pulled over at 7:00pm in the 2013 telling of the story, but he clearly states that it was 7:30pm in his updated version. Does 30 minutes make that big a deal? It does when you’re talking about such a profound and harrowing moment in your life. And as specific as he is about the time in his more recent version, the 2013 version, in theory, would have been closer to the actual alleged incident. He memory got sharper?
Once again, the confusion is cleared once we take a look at my actual words rather than the way Mitchell chooses to frame my words. Even though he referenced and quoted the very interview where I said “It was around 7 p.m. on a Friday,” he pulls a subtle linguistic sleight of hand and writes “He says that they were pulled over at 7:00pm.” Now let’s be clear here. Did I say *at* or *around* 7pm? This is very critical here. One of those words indicates an exact time while the other indicates an estimation. Even though Mitchell describes my words in that way, what I actually said was *around* 7pm. It’s really not that difficult to quote what a person actually says, but Mitchell seems to have trouble doing this. He commits the same error again when he writes “but he clearly states that it was 7:30pm in his updated version.” But let’s take a look at what I literally wrote: “We were pulled over at about 7:30.” So again I prefaced the time with a word that indicates an estimation. Question: In what universe is it contradictory or scandalous for someone to say an event happened *around* 7pm and then almost three years later say the same event happened *at about 7:30pm*?
One of the commenters on Mitchell’s blog post pointed this out to him in a well-said fashion. They write,
And as for the 30 minute time difference- I mean that’s just weak. I tell stories slightly differently week to week, let alone year to year. I think that’s totally normal.
Mitchell responds to that commenter, but he doesn’t address this specific point one bit. He just reiterates his dogmatic belief that I’m lying and moves on.
Part IV: Mitchell’s Condemnation of our Failure to Obtain Incriminating Evidence
But that ain’t all folks.
I hope not. Because what we’ve seen so far is a combination of mockery disguised as argument, stalkerish-like posting of me and my wife’s pictures, poor psychological speculation, and distortion of my words.
By his own account, this ordeal lasted approximately 40 minutes. 40 fuckin’ minutes and you didn’t walk away with ANY description? I guess you just assumed we would all stick to the script and assume they were white, with crew cuts, and scowls? Get the fuck outta here
For starters, this is not evidence that I’m making things up. This is Mitchell dismissing my story because he can’t personally imagine how I could fail to obtain more information given the fact that the incident lasted so long. To put it more plainly, the statement “Get the fuck outta here” is not an argument. It’s just a statement of dismissal. Nothing more. It doesn’t demonstrate why what’s being dismissed is untrue. Nevertheless, I’ll address this:
First of all, it’s interesting that Mitchell suggests the idea that I wanted everyone to “stick to the script and assume they were white.” But if I were making up the story, that would be the easiest thing for me to do. I could have easily described them as “white, with crew cuts, and scowls.” Yet, in every instance where I have shared this story, I have chosen to NOT mention the race of any of the cops. This is even true of the other police stories I briefly referenced. There’s a good reason for that. In contrast to what Mitchell assumes about my motives, I don’t believe that the problem with police violence has anything to do with the race of the officers. It has everything to do with the negative things that can happen when bad people are allowed to use the power of the state as a means to bully people with their unfair prejudices. There are lots of prejudiced people in this world: black and white. But for the most part, there are lots of forces and factors that make it difficult for the average person to oppress others with their prejudices because the average person doesn’t have the power and trust that comes with state authority. Anyone who thinks we will solve the problem of police violence by only hiring non-white officers or by only hiring officers who aren’t racists is blinding themselves. Everybody has biases. The problem is when people are allowed to operate in an incentive structure where they can harm others without accountability to anything other than their own in-the-moment judgment.
Regarding the amount of detail Mitchell thinks I should have obtained, I’m left to wonder why he thinks the amount of time I was held up has anything to do with my ability to obtain data. the ability to obtain data isn’t merely a matter of time. It’s mostly a matter of being physically positioned to perform the necessary task. If your back is turned towards someone, for instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re there for 3 hours or 3 minutes. You’re not going to get a good detailed look at them. Yes, 40 minutes is a lot of time, but what position does he think I was in during that time? At what point does he think I should have looked for a badge number or studied the officer’s face? While my back was turned to him as he searched me? While I was in the back of the squad car? You can’t look at the details of a police car or see its license plate from the inside. And have you ever tried to watch events unfold while you’re sitting in the back of a police car with handcuffs on? I was able to see that one of the officers got inside our car. Does he think I should have been able to study his face and badge number then? For most of the time, my back was turned to them or their backs were turned to me. I could tell that one of them dumped my wife’s purse, but I couldn’t tell you anything specific about what fell out. I saw one of them go inside the car, but I couldn’t see much detail about that. I simply wasn’t in a physical position to obtain incriminating data until we were free to go. And as I’ve already explained, when it was time to go, I was too freaked out by the idea of what else they might do to us if they noticed me staring at them or their car. I don’t expect Mitchell to believe any of this, but his failure to imagine how this could be possible is not actual evidence that I made the story up.
And what about his wife? He wife surely must have got a solid description, with all the time she spent with the two faceless cops in her face?
So if someone can’t provide a detailed description of the person who mistreated them, regardless of set and setting, they *must* be lying? There is a difference between seeing enough of someone’s face to know what race they are and getting a good enough look at them to be able to identify them in a lineup. My wife saw enough to know the race of the officers, but she did not look at these guys well enough to be able to say “hey that’s them over there.” Just because the cops were in her face doesn’t mean my wife was in their face. She wasn’t thinking “Let me get a good look at these guys so I can get them fired.” She was thinking “What in the world is happening right now. I’m so scared.” That’s not necessarily an optimal state for collecting incriminating data.
But let me push the issue here because I can anticipate Mitchell dismissing all this as one convenient excuse. Let’s play devil’s advocate here: For anyone who doesn’t know my wife and I well enough to take our word for it, our story is certainly capable of being doubted. It *could* be true, but it also *could* be a hoax. Let’s grant that for the sake of argument. It’s *possible* that I’m lying. It’s also *possible* that I’m telling the truth. Unless Mitchell can provide evidence that I wasn’t where I said I was, he can’t know either way. So the best thing he could do would be to conclude that he has zero evidence for my story. In fact, that’s exactly what he says on my FB page. He describes my story as one that has zero evidence. But what is the proper response for someone who merely lacks evidence for something? Is it to accuse that person of lying? That sort of position would require evidence in the same way that belief would. The proper response to a lack of evidence is to withhold your belief unless convinced otherwise. But the decision to withhold belief isn’t evidence that the person you’re doubting is dishonest. If I were to tell Mitchell the story of how I proposed to my wife, he would have zero evidence for that story. Even if my wife said “He’s telling the truth, Mitchell,” Mitchell would still be totally free to say “Well, of course, she’s going to side with her husband.” Does that somehow make me a liar and a fraud? Is my story now a hoax because I can’t convince Mitchell that I’m telling the truth? Isn’t that an extreme response?
The same logic can easily be used to frame Mitchell as a fraud. For example, on my FB page, Mitchell posted a link to his blog post where he claims to expose me as a fraud. Someone responded to it by accusing him of doing all this for clicks and views. In other words, Mitchell has actually been accused of writing a negative blog post about me for attention. Of course, Mitchell denies this. In his defense, he claims to not care about such things. But how do we know? It’s *possible* that Mitchell might be doing all of this for attention. *Maybe* he’s doing all of this as a marketing ploy of some sort. I’ve had several people on my FB page accuse him of this. No matter what Mitchell says in his defense, it’s possible that I could easily dismiss it as an effort on his part to save face. Do we all get to assume Mitchell is a fraud just because we don’t know him well enough to know if he’s sincere or not? Clearly, this line of reasoning is silly, but it’s precisely the kind of logic Mitchell employs against me. Rather than suspend judgment on the occurrence of an event he had nothing to do with, he takes the extreme position of assuming someone is a fraud merely because he isn’t convinced by their story. Question for you Mitchell: Do you call everyone a liar when they tell stories about their life that you can’t prove?
Part V: Mitchell’s Absurd Suspicions Regarding My Wife
In fact, Shelly Coleman is suspiciously absent from all of this. She has yet to defend the online detractors that have directly called bullshit on her husband’s story, and a visit to T.K.’s Facebook page shows no sign of her. There are a few pictures of them together, but it’s as if any trail leading to her has been wiped clean – no tags, no “Likes”, no comments from Shelly Coleman. Weird. It’s almost as if she’s hiding. I wonder why?
This is borderline silly. Actually, I should be more precise. This is utterly absurd. My wife has not been on Facebook for about two years. She may decide to come back some day, but she decided some time ago that it was a big timesink for her and she wanted to be more productive in her personal/professional life. So she deactivated her account with the option of reactivating later on if she wishes. This is easily verifiable by almost everyone who has met her. Most of my FB friends were also FB friends with her. Her nearly two year absence from FB is pretty common knowledge in my circle. What’s surprising to me is that Mitchell doesn’t even entertain this option as a possibility. He doesn’t even stop to ask himself if my wife is on FB. Any critical thinker or good skeptic would have asked this question right away. Not Mitchell. He just immediately assumes that her failure to comment on my FB post is best explained by his theory that I “wiped clean” any “trail leading to her.” For a guy who gets all worked up over people who concoct melodramatic stories, Mitchell sure does seem to have a penchant for placing blind faith in exciting stories about cover up conspiracies. Question for Mitchell: Since when is it suspicious for a person to not be on Facebook? I’ll tell you when: it’s suspicious when you’re determined to use anything or everything, no matter how ridiculous it is, to discredit someone’s story.
Back in May, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary. I posted a picture of us and expressed gratitude for her love. Because she’s not on FB, she didn’t like or comment on the picture. Gasp! Tons of people wished us a happy anniversary, but my wife was nowhere to be found. How suspicious, right? Sometimes, I even post status updates about funny things she says to me in conversation. Although lots of my friends like these status updates, my wife is mysteriously absent from them. Wierd, right? No, Mitchell. It’s not weird. It’s not suspicious. It’s something much simpler than any of your conspiracy theories: it’s called “not being on Facebook.” You’re really reaching with this one.
But let’s take your conspiracy theory and show how it could be used to support the very opposite point of what you’re trying to imply. If my story was made up, why in the world would I include my wife in it? You might be inclined to say that it makes the story more dramatic, but even if that’s true, the sheer act of including my wife in the story would be a huge risk in several ways. For starters, a lie is much harder to sustain when more than one person has to agree on the details. The opportunity for one party to slip up and say something that contradicts the other party is a serious risk that has to be considered if you’re going to make up a story. It takes a lot of work, rehearsal, and collaboration to keep a lie going when there’s more than one person telling the lie. Since I’ve already said that I’ve been picked on by police before, it would be much easier for me to tell a consistent story if I claimed to be the only one there. Let’s really consider this in light of Mitchell’s theory. If I am a liar who deliberately concocted this story in an effort to seek attention, why would I go about it in a manner that requires the most amount of work and that carries the greatest amount of risk?
But I want to make an even stronger case, so let’s not stop there. If I include my wife in the story *and* share it on social media for attention, that means she’s going to be questioned by family and friends. If I don’t tell her about my plans to create this lie ahead of time, I risk being exposed as a fraud right away because she won’t have any clue what people are talking about when they ask her about my story. Moreover, I run a high risk of creating tension in my marriage by making her look like an idiot. So in order for a lie to work, it would be necessary that I tell my wife about my plan to fabricate a story *before* I share it with others. But this creates an entirely new set of difficulties. It’s much easier for a man to lie to his wife than it is for him to convince his wife to join in on the lie. There’s always the risk that she thinks I’m crazy for wanting to make up a story like this. If I reveal my plan to her and she thinks it’s a bad idea, my plan is dead in the water. To proceed with a lie about my wife when she thinks it’s a bad idea would not only cause unnecessary friction in my marriage, but it would put me at odds with the very person who would have the most incentive to dispute my story. Why would I take the risk of exposing my plans to my wife when it’s possible that she might be veto the entire thing? This would be an even bigger risk if you consider the fact that it would also eliminate my option of telling the story as if I were the only one involved. In other words, if I tell my wife about my plan to fabricate a story and she doesn’t like the idea, she’ll see right through my BS if I proceed to tell a version of the story that only involves me. If would be much less of a headache for me to just go solo on the lie if I were making it all up. The only logical reason to include my wife in the story would be because she was actually part of the story.
But supposing it’s all a hoax, why would I go through all the extra unnecessary work of selling her on my idea? What would my idea pitch even look like? Do you have any idea of what kind of sacrifice I would be asking her to make? Consider the following: Even though my wife isn’t on FB, she has peers in the real world. When someone sees a story about her being mistreated, she’s naturally going to be bombarded by questions and concerns from family members and friends. That’s already a difficult thing to endure *even* when you’re telling the truth. It’s much more difficult to endure if you have to put on an act and make up answers every time this happens. This is an awful lot for a man to ask his wife to do for an experience that never actually happened to her. Why go through all the trouble and take all those risks if I’m the one who wants attention? If someone had a grand plan to concoct a Hollywood-style lie, wouldn’t it be easier and more risk-free to just narrate it as if I were all by myself? But let’s take this further. Let’s suppose that I’m such a passionate liar that I’m willing to do all the extra work and take all the extra risks that come with including my wife in the story. And let’s assume that my wife is willing to do the extra work of lying to her family members and friends about the story when they ask her questions. And let’s assume that she’s willing to rehearse and memorize details with me so we don’t get caught. What would be the reward for all those risks and sacrifices? What would a man need to promise his wife in order to get her to go through all of that for him? Any ideas? I can think of a couple. One would be money. I can imagine a scenario where I tell her we could get rich from our story if she goes along with it. But if that were the plan, why have my actions been the complete opposite of a man who’s trying to make a buck? As a professional entrepreneur, I’m all for capitalizing on opportunities to generate profits. So why would I neglect a perfectly good opportunity to do that with my story? Why is that I have literally done nothing since the publishing of my story that’s associated with making money from it? What person would go through all that work only to turn around and write the following on his personal blog?
What’s next? Are you going to go on the Bill O’Reilly show? Are you available for radio/podcast interviews?
Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not interested in having my story politicized. And it was never my intent to be on TV debating and discussing issues with political commentators and news reporters. I have a work to do. I have a life mission to fulfill. I have a spiritual purpose I was born to complete. When these 15 minutes of negligible fame pass away, I will still be focused on an agenda that precedes and supersedes my fleeting appearance in Newsweek. I still plan on using my voice for good and I’ll be cautiously open to any opportunities that feel right. I won’t run from my story, but I also have zero plans to shop it. I told my story solely because I was listening to my inner voice. I’m going to go back to doing that. If my inner voice guides me to make a certain kind of appearance or speak with a certain kind of person, I’ll follow it’s lead. But until it calls me in that direction, I’m going to heed it’s present invitation to do the work that my nature demands of me.
Any intelligent entrepreneur knows that it’s risky for business to talk about racial and political issues unless you’re actually in the business of profiting from your views on race and politics. Since I am mostly known, among the few who know me, for talking about inspirational issues, why in the world would I deviate from the script and bring up a potentially polemic story that runs the risk of making me lose some conservative supporters and customers? It would be one thing if I were a Howard Stern, Jesse Jackson, or Sean Hannity figure who makes money for being provocative, but I’m the complete opposite. So the money theory doesn’t hold water.
But maybe I’m doing it for attention. Maybe I don’t care about the money. Maybe all I care about is racking up a bunch of Facebook “Likes” and sympathy comments from gullible people. But that brings us back to the wife problem? Where’s all her attention? Why in the world would she “hide away”? Shouldn’t she be running *towards* all this love I’m getting? What’s in it for her? As a white woman married to a black man, wouldn’t she have an easy time exploiting the market of all those guilty white people who you believe are just ready to eat up a story like this? One would expect my wife to be a lot more visible if she cared about basking in people’s support over the story. She could easily be a social justice warrior hero right now, but she’s just letting a perfectly good opportunity for attention pass her by. What sense does that make for someone who agreed to her husband making up a story? Why go through all the trouble of hiding her away if I can just tell a version of the story that doesn’t include her? Moreover, notice that there is zero evidence and zero rumor of my wife coming forward to deny or dispute my story. If this really didn’t happen to her, she’s being an awfully cooperative good sport by letting me hide her away. What would her motive be? Clearly, it can’t be for attention if she’s running away from the attention. And surely her family would find something fishy about her lying or protecting a lie. What woman’s parents or siblings are not going to ask her questions when a story like this is told? And yet, some of the people who “liked” and commented on my post were my in-laws. If my wife were at odds with my story (to the point of hiding), why in the world would members of her family support my post? Before you say it, let me guess: White guilt? Liberal agenda? Well, the problem with that conspiracy theory is that my wife’s family is mostly conservative and they have a respectful view of the police. Most of them see our incident as a sad example of what happens when bad people abuse their authority. Once you bring up my wife, you’re actually bringing up an element that works against your conspiracy theory. The simplest explanation for why I would tell the story in the way I did is because I believe the story is true. All of the alternative explanations contradict the facts of our behavior since the story’s publishing. It’s easy to just assume that someone is lying when you have a hard time believing them. But once you start to think critically about what it takes to actually pull off a lie, you realize that it’s not as good of an explanation for everything as it initially appears to be.
VI: More Non-Arguments From Mitchell Regarding Why My Story Just Can’t be True
And if this was something Coleman only expected to be read by 5 or 10 friends and family members, as he’s since claimed, why even post it to begin with? Surely those closest to him have already heard the story, right? He set out to reach as many people as possible with this nonsense and he knows it.
*Some* of my closest friends and family members already heard the story, but that doesn’t mean *all* of my close friends and family members heard the story. As I already stated in my introductory remarks, I wanted to share the details with a broader audience. I put my story out there on *social* media so that it could be read by as many of my close friends and family members as possible. Your error here is that you seem to confuse my *goals* with my *expectations*. A goal is something you would like to achieve. An expectation is something you actually believe will happen based on your experience. Whenever I share *anything* on social media, I *hope* to reach as many people as possible. That doesn’t mean I have a reason to *expect* my posts to be shared by thousands or published on Newsweek. For someone who’s never been published on Newsweek, that was a completely unexpected surprise. So your effort to produce some sort of “gotcha” moment merely by pointing out the obvious fact (a fact that i already stated in the article) that I wanted people to see the story is yet another misguided effort.
Or how about the fact that he refuses to name the actual town that this happened in? He made it pretty clear that it was a “…small town on the way to a comedy club in Manhattan Beach, California.”, and he’s since clarified that it was not Manhattan Beach. Why hide that incredibly important fact?
This is actually a question Mitchell asked me on FB and I answered him. He included an update to his article where he mocks my answer. I’ll address the details of what he says when we get to that part of his essay. For now I’ll say one quick thing about. As I mentioned to Mitchell in my FB response, I have shared all the details I have (including the town I was in and the street I was on) with multiple police officers and lawyers whose counsel I sought the very next day and the following week after the incident. That’s very important information for those people to have. Why Mitchell thinks it’s important for me to identify the town to the general public in an article where that is not crucial to the larger point being made is lost on me. I also address this in my 15 minutes post, but I will repeat here:
We need to apprehend the people who did this to you. Can you tell us more about the events? What street were you on? What colors were you wearing? What was the exact date? Let’s do something about this!
The #1 assumption people make when reading my story is that I didn’t try to do anything about what happened to me or that I somehow failed to try hard enough. That’s a bit disheartening to hear because I believe I tried harder than most people would or could if they were in my situation. Moreover, it’s also sad to see how many assumptions people make about what you could or should do when you’re in a situation where you’re literally fearing for your life and the safety of your wife. Nevertheless let me clear the air on this issue one final time: Every single bit of information that I have has been shared with multiple officers some of whom I’ve spoken to in the past week. I am convinced beyond convincing that an exceedingly great effort has been made to do all that can be done about the unfortunate event that transpired three years ago. Frankly, I am completely over that part of things. I care about justice, but my healing process cannot sustain the nuisance of giving out all my information to every curious soul who thinks they’re going to be the Perry Mason archetype who cracks the case. I’ve had extended conversations with lawyers and police officers alike. That’s enough. I’ve made my peace with the possibilities and realities of being able to hold those two officers accountable. I am fighting a different battle now. I am fighting the battle of helping myself and others find the healing, inspiration, strength, and wisdom that comes from sharing our stories.
Of course, Mitchell can’t afford to consider the possibility that I mean what I actually say because it doesn’t fit his theory. So he mocks and casually dismisses anything I says. Let’s take a look at how Mitchell takes my story and decides to “punch it up a bit” by misrepresenting (yet again) what I actually wrote:
You’d think the guy would want to warn the rest of us to be careful while driving through this mysterious town full of racist cops.
Question for Mitchell: When did I ever say the town was “full of racist cops”? My story about the incident with my wife referenced exactly *two* cops. How did you manage to make the leap from *two* cops to an entire town “full of racist cops”? Do you see how you’re projecting your own assumptions onto my words and then attacking them as if they were mine? Do you see why this is a problematic?
What if I find myself driving through there with a black hooker in my passenger’s seat?
That’s quite a concern you have there, Mitchell. Well, if you’re into driving around with hookers in your car, there isn’t much I can do for you. In fact, I’m not interested in trying to help you or anyone else get away with the kinds of illegal activities you’re referring to here.
Those cops will probably kick my ass! Thanks for nothing, asshole
If you ever get beat up by cops for something you didn’t deserve, then it’s because those specific cops are bad individuals. Since, for all I know, bad cops are randomly distributed, you’re as likely to encounter them in one town as much as any other. And since I never described the town we were pulled over in as one that’s “full of racist cops” (that was something you made up, remember?), I feel no need to protect anyone from driving through that specific town. The best advice I can give you is watch your back, get cameras for your car, download police recorder apps for your phone, be respectful to them, and stay away from the hookers.
I think what we have here with Mr. Coleman, and his made-for-TV story, is another example in a long line of needy crybabies who want to wear the victim crown when life gets a little too uneventful for them.
This is another psychoanalysis fail. In the same interview you referenced earlier, I spoke a great deal about the importance of *not* seeing yourself as a victim regardless of what happens to you. The overwhelming majority of my writing is precisely about making the most out of your life and making no excuses for yourself. I’m quite happy and fulfilled in my life and I dedicate myself to helping others overcome a victim mentality. In fact, one of the reasons so many of my friends were shocked by my story is precisely because I am very adamant about refusing to wear a victim crown. In fact, you’re so focused on the fact that I brought up race, that you missed the whole point of the story. The point of the story was that we should stop making assumptions about *anyone* and that we should be open to the fact that we’re sometimes wrong about the people we judge. In contrast with all the examples you’re citing, I have been very explicit about using my negative experience in order to encourage and empower others. So your psychological theory about my motives, once again, contradicts my actual body of work as well as some of the things I said in the article.
Either way, T.K. Coleman should be ashamed of himself.
I’m not ashamed of myself one bit. I stand by my story 100%. I was there and I know what happened for myself. I won’t pretend as if that night never happened merely because of people who judge me harshly for telling my story. In fact, I feel proud of myself because I am setting an example of how negative stories can be used for good. In a world where many stories like mine are used to encourage hate for one side or another, I’m using my experiences to encourage open-mindedness and critical thinking.
This type of social justice warrior-ing does nothing but drive wedges deeper between the police and American citizens.
You’re free to make that kind of assumption if you want to, but your personal subjective opinion is not the final word on the matter. My experience differs from yours. In fact, since writing my story, I’ve had multiple conversations with police officers and they have *all* been positive and pleasant. I even had a police officer invite me to do a ride along and come talk with some of his other officers. Moreover, I’ve learned some very valuable things from police officers that have broadened my view. Furthermore, I’ve spoken with many people who have responded in a much more compassionate manner than what your prophecy of doom indicates. In spite of the defensiveness you have about this issue, this country has a lot of people in and outside of the police force who want to see more peace in this country. These people aren’t on the news everyday because their stories aren’t as sexy, but they’re out there. By the way, for someone who presents himself as being concerned about people getting along in this country, you sure do have a less than tactful/peaceful/diplomatic way of generating dialogue. Instead of writing long essays where you engage in name-calling tactics with the people you disagree with, perhaps you could embody your philosophy in action by reaching out to people in a more civil manner.
Your lies only perpetuate the myth that the police are out to get blacks, without offering up a shred of proof to support it.
Firstly, my story is true. Therefore my “lies”, as you falsely call them, aren’t perpetuating *any* myths. Secondly, I never said all police are bad or that all police are out to get blacks. I simply shared some true personal stories that point to the fact that there are some alarming experiences out there that indicate a greater need for accountability and open-mindedness. Thirdly, you criticize me for not having “proof” when your own rebuttal is based on falsehoods, unsupported assumptions, distortions, and misreadings. Even if you lack evidence for my story, you seem to show no regard for the dictum that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
You throw gasoline on an already blazing fire.
Well, I clearly threw gasoline on the fire of your own personal defensiveness surrounding this issue, but thankfully you don’t represent the entire country. Every police officer I’ve spoken to has been much more charitable and optimistic than you about the possibility of resolving these issues.
You make things MORE dangerous. You, not the police, are the real problem, fuck-o.
The real problem is ignorance and bad logic. We live in a world that’s so messed up because we still have a long way to go in the arena of self-knowledge and self-respect. This is much bigger than a few bad cops and it’s much bigger than the social justice warriors you spend so much time attacking.
Or maybe T.K. just needed to add a little street cred to his resume. He strikes me as a relatively smart and articulate guy, but maybe he’s just spent one too many nights at his predominately white social gatherings, without a cool story of racial oppression to share with his uber liberal honky friends.
Or maybe this: instead of engaging in wild speculation about other people’s inner motives, you should just admit when you don’t know what’s going on and leave it at that. No? What’s particularly odd to me is that you even admitted in the comments section of your own article that you have no idea why I told my story. Again, let’s take a look at your own words:
I really have no idea why TK would concoct this dumb story. And quite frankly, I don’t expect to ever know
This is a critical admission on your part for two reasons: Firstly, it makes your psychological speculation look even worse. By acknowledging that you don’t know my motives, you’re undermining all the attacks you’ve made that are based on your assumptions about those very motives. Secondly, a plausible motive is a very important thing to have when accusing someone of lying. In the same way that you can ask questions like “40 fuckin’ minutes and you didn’t walk away with ANY description?,” I can ask questions like, “In the absence of any plausible motive for why I would make something like this up, why would you jump the conclusion that I’m lying and write a blog post titled “TK Coleman is Full of Shit”? The knife of your faulty logic cuts both ways. The bad arguments you’re using against me could just as easily be used to undermine what you’re saying.
You know they’ve been chomping at the bit to prove how progressive and anti-racist they are by relating to your tale of racial discrimination. One look at the comments section on his original Facebook post will confirm that. I almost drowned in the flood of white guilt.
So in actuality, most of those sympathetic comments came from people who actually know me or my wife and were sorry to hear about such an unnerving experience. It’s unfortunate that you seem unable to recognize simple expressions of compassion as anything other than “white guilt.” Newsflash: when a white person feels bad about something that happens to a black person, it’s possible that it might be because they see that black person as a fellow human being.
And by the way, in his ill-advised effort to dismiss my supporters as victims of white guilt, he significantly overlooks the sympathy and support from all the black people I received. My story was literally shared, liked, or supported by thousands of black people. Thousands. Even the first person to comment was black. Mitchell doesn’t even mention them. But those black people don’t fit into his preexisting belief that people only support my story because of “white guilt” so I can see why that would be an insignificant observation for him. Mitchell starts with theory and then he looks for evidence to support what he’s already decided he’s going to believe. Since his “white guilt” theory was already in place, he only focused on the stuff that he could use to buttress his theory. I can’t say I’m surprised at this point.
But maybe now you can finally offer up what they so desperately need from you, for them to feel better about themselves.
Or maybe this: Since the people who commented on the post represented a diverse range of backgrounds (some liberal, some conservative, some libertarian, some friends, some strangers, some black, some white, etc), maybe the more rational conclusion would be that you’re not capable of reading the minds of everyone who expressed sympathy or support. And maybe, instead of claiming to know what large groups of people need, it would be more rational to just admit what you don’t know and leave it at that. If you don’t like it when other people make up stories, perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to concoct unverifiable stories about what’s going on inside of the hearts and minds of so many people you’ve never met.
Keep on dancing for them, T.K.
I have a better idea. I’ll just keep on speaking truth like I was already doing. I’ll just keep on using accurate information as a tool to encourage and empower others. And when I encounter people like you, I’ll take it as evidence that I’m making a difference and I’ll use it as motivation to work ten times harder at empowering others.
Now this is an update from Mitchell’s website where he posts my response to a question he asked me on Facebook.
UPDATE: Oh, he’s just protecting the police! Here’s T.K.’s response to my question about why he chooses not to identify the town: As I suspected, he’s one of those dolts that thinks the more he speaks, the more his bullshit will appear as truth. Nice try.
“Mitchell Boone The particular FB post you’re reading (as well as the article version posted in FEE) is not a police report, so my goal wasn’t to provide every possible detail I could give. My goal was to talk about what happened to us in terms of the essence of our experience for the purpose of inspiring others to be honest about their own experiences and to contribute to the process of opening people’s minds about some very harsh realities that still exist in our world. All the information I have (including the street name I was on and the intersection I was near) has already been shared w/ multiple officers and lawyers). Since I cannot say who the specific *department* was that pulled us over, I do not wish to identify the specific town because it may bring attention to that town that the police department may not deserve. In fact, after receiving a very kind email from Manhattan Beach PD, I partially regret mentioning the name of their town because lots of people read the story as if it happened there. So, again, all the details I have has been shared with the people who are actually capable of doing something about it. When conveying the story to the general public, I already stated that it occurred in the South Bay area of L.A. County and I prefer to leave it at that. I won’t be able to keep up with all the questions and comments that come my way at this point, but here is a personal statement I wrote about my agenda that also addresses some of the popular questions people have asked me about my experience. You’ll also find the link there to my more detailed version of the story that addresses additional questions. If you’re interested, feel free to take a look. If you’re not interested, I bid you Godspeed as you pursue whatever it is you’re interested in.”
Let’s breakdown what actually happened here: 1) Mitchell comes to my Facebook page to ask me why I didn’t mention the specific town. 2) I give Mitchell a thoughtful answer to his question. 3) Without making any effort to demonstrate how my answer was illogical, Mitchell simply assumes that it confirms his suspicion and he proceeds to dismiss it as “bullshit.” At the end of his non-argument, he adds the words “Nice try” as if his personal inability to be impressed were some kind of refutation of what I said. I stand by the answer I provided to his question. It’s a good answer and it’s the truth. Mitchell is so entrenched in his malformed perception of me as an anti-cop/liberal/social justice warrior/victim trope that he can’t even fathom why I would answer him in such a way. He hasn’t shown any aspect of my answer to be illogical. It’s just a problematic answer for him because it conflicts with his already existing assumption that I must be lying.
As I suspected, he’s one of those dolts that thinks the more he speaks, the more his bullshit will appear as truth
Not quite. I’m just a guy who gave an honest answer to what appeared to be an honest question. Nothing more. I’ve been around long enough to know that there are going to be people who assume you’re bullshitting no matter what you say. I don’t expect Mitchell to change his mind at all. If I were to make a video recording of my wife telling Mitchell the story was true, I’m sure he’d have another theory just waiting to explain it away. “She said that because of white guilt. You put her up to it. She’s doing it for money or attention.” I’m sure he’d come up with something. In the same way that there are people who believe my story without even knowing me, there are people who will believe I’m a fraud on the same grounds. Unfortunately, “I don’t know” is becoming a rarer response to stories we can’t verify or falsify. “You’re a liar” has become the new substitute for “I choose to suspend judgment.” This is unfortunate. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that things will improve. And even if they don’t, I’ll keep fighting for positive change.
Lastly, I want to comment on a comment you wrote on your blog post. One of your readers, ABC, posted the following:
I have no idea why you consider any of the observations you made here evidence that this story isn’t true.
This guy obviously doesn’t have a bone to pick with white people – he’s married to one. It also looks like his friends are white. So whats the motive for telling a fake story? Attention? I looked at this guy’s profile, and he has multiple lengthy posts that vary on topic and depth – so this post doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for him. He’s just doing what he normally does but this time it seemed to strike a cord. If he were going for attention he would have pitched his story to a new publication right away, not post it on social media.
I also noticed that his wife doesn’t have a Facebook profile, explaining why she did not comment on the post.
And as for the 30 minute time difference- I mean that’s just weak. I tell stories slightly differently week to week, let alone year to year. I think that’s totally normal.
I think that there are many cases of people playing victim cards, but I don’t think this is one of them. He’s not gaining anything for this, and it looks like the crowd that he is a part of wouldn’t necessarily appreciate a post like this. It really seems that you are just assuming he is lying, and I have no idea why. Police brutality is really out of control, so this story doesn’t sound farfetched at all. Police go on ego trips on all races, so this story is completely plausible.
It sounds like you have a positive belief in something without having any evidence.
Then this was your response:
I really have no idea why TK would concoct this dumb story. And quite frankly, I don’t expect to ever know. I figure he’s painted himself into a corner that he can never get out of, and that must really suck for him.
And now he has to go against me.
The truth stands on its own two feet.
Hope he brought his good shoes.
Well, sir, I am in no corner. And the place upon which I stand is a place that does not suck by any means. I have never been the kind of person who runs from scrutiny or who feels uncomfortable in the face of rational analysis. So your eagerness to debate is not going to have the effect of making me shy or apologetic about telling the truth of my experience. But in all honesty, I think you’re too hungry for blood. I think you saw someone writing about race and you lumped my story into all the other stories that you filed under “social justice warriors to attack.” I encourage you to be less rash in your judgment, but I can’t say I have much confidence that you will take heed. I don’t expect you to change your mind, but for all your alleged concerns about truthfulness, I hope you at least explain yourself when it comes to the story you fabricated about me changing my FB post in the way alleged. For someone who doesn’t like when people make up stories, I truly hope you at least own up to that. Either way, even if you don’t, the evidence I posted will speak for itself to all who view it.
I posted a link to this post in the comments section on Mitchell’s blog. Based on his style of argumentation, I wasn’t expecting a rational response. Mitchell did not surprise me. Instead of owning up to the conclusive evidence I provided of his lie, he chose to resort to his usual tactic of adopting mockery as a substitute for real argumentation. Below are the responses he’s left so far.
This first response is posted an update to his original post:
UPDATE #2: So this came in over the weekend from T.K. I swear I had to take two naps while reading his predictably lengthy and exhausting response. My eyes crossed so much that I started worrying that they would remain perpetually in that position.
But I’ve got to admit, after reading his response and letting it soak-in all morning, I have a whole new respect for this cat. I almost find him endearing now. His tenacity to stand behind his story and continue to shovel another cubic ton of bullshit on top of it, in order to defended it, is admirable. This guy is going places. I’m willing to bet that I’ve just been involved with an online back-and-forth with a future United States President. Or at least a senator. The dude has a black belt in bullshitting! It’s pretty impressive. It may take you half a day to get through it, but for nothing else, read it and marvel at his skills.
I’ve already pointed out Mitchell’s knack for using name calling tactics, mockery, and dogmatic dismissals of my statements as substitutes for real argument, so I won’t do a sentence by sentence breakdown of what he said as I did earlier. For now, I will just point out the fact that none of the above addresses any of my arguments or counterarguments. Rather than attempting to refute my actual claims, he merely continues his pattern of personal attack.
Here’s what he wrote to me in his personal comments:
You didn’t prove shit. And the fact that you presented a couple screen-grabs of your phoney story, and how you may have edited it, only proves to me that you pulled some other sneaky nonsense that I’ve yet to figure out. You didn’t catch me in a lie, you just shoveled more lies on top of your own lies, while still providing ZERO evidence to back up your story.
Where is your wife’s corroborating story?
Where is proof that you’ve even talked to any cops about this alleged incident?
Where is you description of the cops?
What town did this happen in?
What is the actual date that it happened?
You don’t have SQUAT. You have a bunch of fucking excuses. A long-ass, confusing, double-talk collection of bullshit excuses. And this whole nonsense about you catching me in a lie is just some weak sleight of hand tactic, concocted to help divert attention away from your lame story. No one is buying it. You’re a liar and a fool. And if you had a brain in your head you’d quit talking about it. Because based on a few email inquiries that I’ve received since I posted my critique, I’d say this whole thing is about to blow up in your face. Good luck with that, friend.
Now with regards to the evidence I provided of him fabricating a story, he simply responds by alleging that I must have done something sneaky he hasn’t figured out yet. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the thinking of a conspiracy theorist. Rather than face the hard evidence that contradicts his theory, he just concludes that there must be something fishy going on. By his own admission, he has no evidence for what that something is, but he’s going to keep on believing it anyway because his mind is made up. I anticipated this accusation and that’s precisely why I explained to everyone that you can’t delete your history of edits on an individual basis. The only way to hide edits is by deleting the post or by making your edit history altogether private. But more importantly, I invited the reader to go look at it for themselves and I gave them the direct link. So I have done much more than merely provide screenshots. I’ve provided an open invitation for people to verify what the screenshots showed for themselves. As much as Mitchell is trying to wiggle out of this with Ad Hominem attacks, the evidence is in that I caught him fabricating a fake story. And he hasn’t done the slightest thing to show anyone what’s wrong with the evidence I gave. He just digs his feet into the ground and dogmatically pronounces that I must have done something wrong. As much as Mitchell wants me to drop this issue, he’s going to have to own the fact that he built his case on a lie. And that’s a fact that has been proven.
Regarding this —->
And if you had a brain in your head you’d quit talking about it. Because based on a few email inquiries that I’ve received since I posted my critique, I’d say this whole thing is about to blow up in your face.”
Amazing. These are the kinds of threats that are typical of people who don’t want anyone telling truths that are inconsistent with what they want to believe. Mitchell writes a blog post publicly calling me out. I responded with counter arguments for every single point he made. I provided irrefutable evidence that he lied. And now *he* wants *me* to stop talking? Sigh. If Mitchell wasn’t interested in hearing my responses to him, why write anything about me at all? Apparently, it’s because he was only interested in getting his opinion out there. He wasn’t interested in having honest dialogue with me about it. I guess all the people who accused him of using this as a marketing technique were on to something.
Additionally, he wants me to feel threatened because of some vague emails he supposedly received about his sketchy post. I don’t feel threatened by anyone who takes his attacks seriously. If anything, he should be praying that those people who allegedly emailed him don’t read my post about him. Because if they do, they’re going to see the independently verifiable evidence that his whole conspiracy theory is based on a fabrication. He can threaten me personally all he wants, but my story will never be falsified. The only thing he or anyone can ever do is what he’s already done: use mockery and personal attack as a substitute for addressing the arguments behind what I say. And regarding my wife, she will share her side of the story with the world whenever she feels ready. And when she does, I’m certain it won’t change Mitchell’s mind one bit. Nothing can. As the guy who writes a blog called “Sick of Your Crap,” he can’t afford to admit when he’s wrong. It’s inconsistent with his brand. Mitchell’s entire blog is filled with attack pieces on various people. He can’t afford to stop now. This is what he does. The show must go on.
And you blocked me on your Facebook because I had created genuine doubts among your blind followers. You recognize the cracks I’ve formed in your story with people and you’re shitting your pants.
Mitchell, I blocked you from my FB page because you were behaving like a troll. You never made a single argument on my FB page and anyone who clicks on the link will see that for themselves. Everyone who interacted with you prior to my decision to block you was criticizing you for being a troll. Nothing more. Nothing less. And to be clear, I don’t owe it to you to allow you to roam freely on my personal page. And considering the amount of time you spent stalking around for my wife and creepily posting a photo of her on your site, I think it’s probably safer to limit your access anyway.
You think you had a ton of bandwagon jumpers ride along with you when you originally posted your lame story? Wait until you see the reaction from the same crowd when they’ve learned it was a fabrication on your part.
Here’s the difference between you and I: You’re basing what you say on how big you think your supporting crowd is. I’m basing what I say on what I actually experienced. I’ll let you spend your time focusing on numbers and counting up the number of people who agree with you, while I continue to stand for truth in whatever I say and do.
Where is your wife’s corroborating story?
Where is her opposition? Where is her disagreement? Where is there any evidence that my wife has ever cared about expressing her opinion on the internet? When my wife is ready to share her part of the story with the world, she will. And when she does, I’m sure you’ll still find a way to hang on to your predetermined beliefs.
Where is proof that you’ve talked to any cops about this alleged incident?
Where is you description of the evil cops?
What town did this happen in?
What is the actual date that it happened?
Where is your response to my in-depth point by point response to everything you’ve already asked, asserted, and argued? Where is the evidence that any of my well-argued points will ever be honestly addressed by you? You ask questions and make arguments as if you’re going to sincerely address my responses. But judging from the way in which you’ve completely mocked and dismissed (without providing any rationale for your dismissal) the tons of arguments and responses I’ve already given you, you’re only interested in finding ways to dodge and deflect the well reasoned and thoroughly supported explanations/arguments I’ve already abundantly supplied.
Deflect all you want, it still won’t take away from the fact that your story is bullshit and full of holes.
Keep spinning excuses until everyone is dizzy, TK. There will still be enough of us that see through your lie.
Mitchell, how in the world is it a deflection tactic on my part when everything I say in my entire rebuttal post is a direct response to a point you voluntarily chose to make? Consider the hypocrisy of your debating strategy for a moment: when you think you’re in possession of some kind of smoking gun revelation, it’s considered to be relevant and important for you to reveal that information as evidence that my story is full of holes. Fair enough. But once I expose the flaws and fallacies inherent in those very claims, it’s all of a sudden a big distraction for me to talk about it. Well, if you didn’t think it was an important issue, why did *you* bring it up? If you truly felt like it was a distraction from what truly matters, why did *you* make the argument? It’s hypocritical for you to treat an issue as if it’s important as long as it appears to support your theory, but to then accuse me of deflecting when I prove you wrong on the very issues you brought up. How this simple fact keeps eluding you is lost on me. My story is not full of holes. If it truly was, you would have successfully pointed those alleged holes. You tried very hard and I gave a point by point demonstration of how every thing you said was rooted in fabrication and fallacy. And now that I have exposed your failed effort to poke holes in my story, you want to suddenly treat the very issues that you freely chose to raise as if they’re not important anymore. I’m not the one deflecting.
I’ve addressed *all* of Mitchell’s points from his original post point by point. Every single one of them. I’m not going to keep responding to his stand-up comedy routine where he mocks me and engages in name calling tactics. Moreover, regarding his latest shower of questions, why should I answer any more questions or respond to any more arguments when he insists on ignoring all the answers and arguments I’ve already given him? He presents his questions to me as if he’s going to offer a sincere and direct response to the things I say in return, but this is a distraction strategy used to avoid addressing what I’ve already given him. Given the fact that I gave a point by point rebuttal of every single assertion and argument from his original post and he hasn’t addressed any of those, there is no reason to conclude that Mitchell is sincerely interested in understanding my experience. He is man with a made up mind.
Mitchell, perhaps I should have listened to my friends and family members when they said you didn’t deserve a response. Since I posted my response to Mitchell on Facebook, I’ve received several criticisms from family and friends who argued that I’m wasting my time by using up valuable energy on a troll. Here’s what one of them wrote:
His attack was 100% pure bluster. There was no foundation whatsoever to any of his claims, especially the claim “I’m going to pull it apart like a perfectly cooked chicken”. And he claims in the title that you’re full of shit? This guy is the very definition of “full of shit.”
The only criticism I have for you is along the lines of “don’t feed the troll.” Was it really necessary to take him apart like that? Because it seems obvious he’s either unhinged or is gaming the unhinged. No reasonable person is going to walk away from his article thinking his points had any merit.
Another one wrote:
Now that I have had more time to look into this guy (The daughter is asleep), there isn’t much there. Who the heck is this loon, and why are you giving him any respectability and web traffic T.k. Coleman?
Wow, that guy is a troll on steroids. I’m sorry that he has wasted so much of your time — I’d advise not letting him waste any more of it.
I could go on and on as there were several of these. If the truth of their words was not clear to me then, it is definitely clear to me now. I should have wrapped up my dialogue with Mitchell at the very point where he felt the need to fabricate a story. But given his troll-like response, I now think it’s very clear that he has very little to offer me in a discussion on this matter other than name-calling tactics, vague mockeries, conspiracy theories, bad psychoanalysis, and other dogmatic pronouncements. Goodbye, Mitchell.
To everyone else:
I hope someone out there can take something positive from my experience and my willingness to share it. If there is anything I’ve learned from all this, it’s that there is a detractor for every message. The peanut gallery is real, but you don’t have to let them stop you from speaking your truth. There are people out there who thrive on intimidation tactics as a way of bullying others into silence. It is important to remember the adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” If you have a story, don’t be afraid to tell it. Whether it’s a story of joy or suffering, there is someone out there who may benefit from hearing it. I leave you all with the powerful words of Audre Lorde on this subject:
I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.
My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.
What are the words you do not have yet? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.
What are the words you do not have yet? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.”
And, of course, I am afraid– you can hear it in my voice– because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation and that always seems fraught with danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic and my difficulty with it, said, “tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside of you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth.”
I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.
Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.