Join 3,368 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What can money erase?
October 8, 2010 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Memo to David Bruce McMahan, Daughter Seducer

A Google search of David Bruce McMahan turns up numerous pages devoted to the variety of philanthropic works by this financier, though he is not noteworthy enough for Wikipedia (one Redditor claims to know why). Not until the second page is there any reference to the 2006 Broward-Palm Beach New Times story detailing the incestuous relationship he conducted with his adult daughter, and the bizarre web of court cases surrounding this wealthy man and his broken relationships. A fascinating, still-evolving tale of sex, money and public relations.
posted by waraw (95 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
WTF! Wow. The tone of that article is really annoying in its smug, aren't we awesome sorta way, but what a story!
posted by purenitrous at 10:17 PM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Good grief. Absolutely utterly gobsmackingly disgusting.

I wonder how many of his (known) children are daughters?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 10:32 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:34 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


D'oh! I did a search but didn't click the Comments tab. Silly me.
posted by waraw at 10:44 PM on October 8, 2010


It's not a double or anything, since your post is something of an update. It's just interesting that Metafilter is a more accurate reflection of some things than a self-processed encyclopedia.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:47 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Self-proclaimed encylopedia," darn it.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:48 PM on October 8, 2010


The interesting part is how SEO has been used to bury the story
posted by jedro at 11:05 PM on October 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


I agree, 4 years later (with new information) should be past the statute of limitations on double-post violation.

meanwhile yes, cripes the writing is annoying but cripes-squared for the content.

I'm wondering if there's a specific term for the condition of living so far above the means of the rest of world, where literally nothing is too expense to purchase, that you convince yourself that none of the rules, as in: none of the rules, applies to you. somehow, christ what an asshole, doesn't seem nearly enough.
posted by victors at 11:10 PM on October 8, 2010


Phenomenal piece of journalism. Real old-school. What a story indeed.
posted by jet_manifesto at 11:12 PM on October 8, 2010


As mentioned in another thread a couple of days ago, wikipedia is good as a skim source for a lot of things, but you'd be reckless to use it as a reliable resource. I guess those "we need your help" fund raiser progress bars would fill up pretty quickly though during "clean your bio" week.

Now I'm curious...is it illegal for parents and their adult children to have a romantic (such as it is) relationship? One would think the squick factor would keep it from happening, but...
posted by maxwelton at 11:13 PM on October 8, 2010


The interesting part is how SEO has been used to bury the story

By this, I mean it's not a double, because of the SEO angle
posted by jedro at 11:13 PM on October 8, 2010


> I'm wondering if there's a specific term

I think a simple "obscenely wealthy sociopath" is tidy and apt here
posted by Burhanistan at 11:14 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think a simple "obscenely wealthy sociopath" is tidy and apt here

ok, but is there a specific clinical word or term?
posted by victors at 11:24 PM on October 8, 2010


The interesting part is how SEO has been used to bury the story

The interesting part is how this post will function as part of an SEO strategy to unbury the story.
posted by Ahab at 11:26 PM on October 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


... is there a specific clinical word or term?

The Chinatown Syndrome?
posted by Ritchie at 11:33 PM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


While I don't remember reading the old thread about this guy, I do remember reading the rather amazing Guardian article about Genetic Sexual Attraction that ottoeroticist links to there. Apparently, a shockingly high number (up to 50%) of close blood relatives separated from birth develop super intense, even obsessive sexual attraction (or at least a compelling attraction that often manifests in a sexual way) after meeting as adults.

(GSA on Wikipedia, since McMahan seems to have neglected to it have removed so far.)
posted by taz at 11:38 PM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


See, with Linda's cheek swab sample, the lab was able to confirm that the sticky residue on the sex toy Schutt had found in her luggage contained examples of her skin cells. (Ew, right?) But there were other cells there, too. So what did the lab do?

It did a paternity test. That's right, the lab was able to show with almost total certainty (99.9891 percent!) that the sperm cells on the vibrator were those of Linda's biological father.
Damn that's nasty. Somehow the concrete detail of a dildo with skin cells of both a woman and cells that must belong to her genetic father is grosser then the whole story of a love affair between some eccentric old guy and his long-lost father.
posted by delmoi at 11:42 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I need to take a shower now.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:47 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now I'm curious...is it illegal for parents and their adult children to have a romantic (such as it is) relationship? One would think the squick factor would keep it from happening, but...

Yes, usually the yuck factor keeps it from happening, but it turns out that sexual attraction to kin disappears the more you live together (that's why brothers and sisters are usually not attracted to each other), and he first met he when she was in her 20's.

Should incest among adults be illegal? One way to look at it is that these were two consenting adults; it's not like he raped her or anything. Noone got hurt, except emotionally, and the emotional damage doesn't seem to be bigger than in many other fucked-up marriages, say between him and his last wife Elena. And what they do with their dildos in their bedrooms is frankly none of our business and I don't really want to hear about it, so I found those bits of the article especially offputting.

Sure, the majority of people find incest disgusting, but if that is the test, maybe homosexual relations should be outlawed too.

The taboo that society places on incest is a result of the increased risk of genetic defects - in other words, societies that ban incest will have a better gene pool in the long run. But McMahan didn't have any kids with his daughter. So if they want to have a marriage ceremony, how is that any different than a gay couple wanting to get married?
posted by sour cream at 12:03 AM on October 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm wondering if there's a specific term for the condition of living so far above the means of the rest of world, where literally nothing is too expense to purchase, that you convince yourself that none of the rules, as in: none of the rules, applies to you. somehow, christ what an asshole, doesn't seem nearly enough.

According to French sociologist Raymond Aron, writing in Progress and Disillusion, Durkheim initially used the term anomie for the Andrew Carnegies and John D Rockefellers of his world rather than the anonymous masses.
posted by jamjam at 12:14 AM on October 9, 2010


ok, but is there a specific clinical word or term?

Cash-hole?

I'm in awe of this entire thing. The old-skool journalism, the grotesque mendacity of MacMahon, the icky-by-the-gallon sordidness of the relationships, the... it's just too much. I need to rest now.
posted by fatbird at 12:16 AM on October 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


He was her long lost father, then her boss, and he probably saved her life by getting her access to the best medical care. Even if it's not illegal, there's a huge imbalance of power in their relationship that makes her consent to it a pretty nebulous, hard to define thing. There was some major league sordidness going on, anyway.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:27 AM on October 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


What's most amazing to me is that the biographical article for David Bruce McMahan, after many edits and debates over this was finally deleted. Which means, if you are rich enough you can have sock puppets edit the hell out of wikipedia until page editors get so frustrated that they vote for the page's deletions.

Here's a link to a reddit comment that contains links to videos of the daughter's testimony.
posted by Catblack at 1:17 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


This story describes a big tangled shitstorm worthy of any soap opera, but I can't say the rich guy comes off as much worse than any of the other characters. While infidelity and litigation are fairly shitty, they are common and understandable weaknesses. I'm even willing to offer Wikipedia the benefit of the doubt that this man doesn't meet notability requirements. Many on the Forbes richest 400 list don't even have entries.

The incest aspect is entertaining, but morally meaningless.
posted by dgaicun at 1:22 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Forget it, Jake.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:26 AM on October 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Self-proclaimed encylopedia," darn it.

I wasn't aware Wikipedia needed an article on every pervert out there.
posted by rodgerd at 1:38 AM on October 9, 2010


Even if it's not illegal, there's a huge imbalance of power in their relationship that makes her consent to it a pretty nebulous, hard to define thing.

This is the basis for retrograde ideas like "seduction" and "alienation of affection" and their faux-feminist rebrandings, that treat women like quasi-child/animal-like beings who can't be fully held accountable for their sexual decisions.

Her consent was neither nebulous or hard to define. It was consent.

Jessica Alba has an imbalance of power over me. Pray to God she doesn't one day ask me to kill someone, because you better believe I'll use the "Did I really have a choice?" defense. I'll do the wink, wink, nudge, nudge thing, and the male judge will acquit me, and we'll give each other a high five.
posted by dgaicun at 1:41 AM on October 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Get back to us when Jessica Alba is your mom.
posted by Iteki at 1:49 AM on October 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm not really sure where you're coming from here, dgaicun, but imo, this seems like a very sordid situation where Ms. Schutt's motivations were most likely quite confused. People of both sexes can become trapped in unhealthy relationships when the other partner has all of the control, and particularly so when there are powerful emotional bonds involved like family ties. People aren't perfect. They make mistakes, sometimes they become trapped and can't see a way out of a situation even if that way seems clear to an impartial observer.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:10 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why the Village Voice is so upset about this. If that newspaper has stood for anything over the years, it is the freedom of consenting adults to engage in private sexual relations. Who are we to impose our uptight traditional morals on other people?
posted by Yakuman at 2:15 AM on October 9, 2010


I wasn't aware Wikipedia needed an article on every pervert out there.

The notable ones would be enough.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:35 AM on October 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


I don't understand why the Village Voice is so upset about this.

Presumably because he's attempting to sue them into silence? Law suits tend to be upsetting.

If that newspaper has stood for anything over the years, it is the freedom of consenting adults to engage in private sexual relations. Who are we to impose our uptight traditional morals on other people?

The Voice isn't imposing anything. It was seeking to report court proceedings involving an extremely rich man. That's what the media does. It's their job. If you don't like it, consume different media.

I don't see many people screaming about the privacy rights of poor black men arrested for selling crack on street corners. That's a voluntary deal involving consenting adults as well. Are you really arguing that the media has no business reporting on those arrests? Because I'm not seeing any qualitative differences between the coverage of that and the coverage of this. Except this asshole has got enough money to try and silence the reporters.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:42 AM on October 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


The K-Street and Iteki comments seem to imply that the fact he was her biological father made his sexual advances harder to resist. While this is likely true because of greater sexual attraction, it certainly isn't true on a social or emotional level, where this can be considered a rather large courtship handicap. This is why I've never tried to mack a girl by pretending I'm a long lost cousin.

Anyway, Kevin, your response speaks of regret, dependency, and unhealthy relationships, but not to the issue of consent, which was unambiguously given here. You were conflating some important concepts, which is what I was objecting to.
posted by dgaicun at 2:49 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The K-Street and Iteki comments seem to imply that the fact he was her biological father made his sexual advances harder to resist. While this is likely true because of greater sexual attraction, it certainly isn't true on a social or emotional level
Yeah but in this case the girl had led a pretty much middle class life before she discovered this absurdly rich guy was her long-lost father. While "Long lost father" might be turn off for most people "Billionaire" is a plus in most people's books.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, unless I'm mistaken, the article nowhere describes him as a 'billionaire', and simply insinuates at his vast wealth.

Based on my rather superficial evaluation this guy really doesn't meet the notability requirements of Wikipedia.

His media claim to fame appears to be this irrelevant tabloid gossip story about his sex life. But the author of the story can't use his own story as evidence of notability, just to manipulate Wikipedia into smearing someone he doesn't like. I'm actually more concerned about what looks like an attempted abuse of Wikipedia to shame "sinners".
posted by dgaicun at 3:35 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Your legs are a sexier version of mine" is really not a line that gets a lot of play in the dating community.
posted by graventy at 3:42 AM on October 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


What's most amazing to me is that the biographical article for David Bruce McMahan, after many edits and debates over this was finally deleted. Which means, if you are rich enough you can have sock puppets edit the hell out of wikipedia until page editors get so frustrated that they vote for the page's deletions.

This is a lame reading of the situation. The only reason a wiki page was created for this guy at all is this embarrassing tabloid story about his sex life. Notability guidelines make it clear that Wikipedia pages are for people with significant independent coverage, and not simply flash in the pan tabloid victims. As the Wiki talk page convincingly states:

"No evidence that this business man passes either [[WP:BIO]] or [[WP:GNG]]. Current article sources are trivial mentions at best. A search on [[NewsBank]] found only trivial mentions also"

Ortega offers obviously stupid evidence of this man's notability, and comes off like a hack, just like the Wikipedia editor said.

I could give a lesser fuck about consensual incest, but the whole idea that Google and Wikipedia need to be used as weapons to sexually humiliate people gives me a knot in my stomach. This is not journalism, it's predatory.
posted by dgaicun at 4:18 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


My comment was regarding power balances and the inanity of your comparison. Jessica Alba is a woman, either younger than you or at most, what, ten years older than you? To whom you are already attracted and with whom you have no previous relationship. Jessica Alba doesn't actually have the power to withold anything from you or make your life difficult in any manner or even cause you weird mixed feelings.
posted by Iteki at 4:32 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


the whole idea that Google and Wikipedia need to be used as weapons to sexually humiliate people gives me a knot in my stomach. This is not journalism, it's predatory.

I disagree. This is an obviously notable and interesting story about a woman being abused against her better judgment. Would you also say that an abused wife consents to being punched in the stomach because she doesn't leave her abuser? Yeah yeah, analogies are not arguments, so I'll make one instead: if you RTFA you'll see plenty of evidence that the dad manipulated and extorted her into behaving in a way that she found disgusting and broke her legal and ethical obligations to her marriage and her society. The dude is a capital C Creep and the only reason he's not a national punchline is that he's suppressed all the evidence of anything sketchy taking place. Wikipedia has more than a right to allow his entry to stand, it has an obligation to do so.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:37 AM on October 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Jessica Alba doesn't actually have the power to withold anything from you or make your life difficult in any manner or even cause you weird mixed feelings.
This women met this very wealthy man -- her father -- when she was an adult, 29. It's not like he was abusing her from childhood and she had been 'trained' to accomodate him sexually. My guess is the only reason her weird feelings were mixed was that she did not want to alienate herself from the money. But even with the irresistible piles of cash PLUS the genetic attraction thing, I think most people would have a natural Eew response and get the heck out of there and figure out how to stay next to the money some other way.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:51 AM on October 9, 2010


"While I don't remember reading the old thread about this guy, I do remember reading the rather amazing Guardian article about Genetic Sexual Attraction that ottoeroticist links to there. Apparently, a shockingly high number (up to 50%) of close blood relatives separated from birth develop super intense, even obsessive sexual attraction (or at least a compelling attraction that often manifests in a sexual way) after meeting as adults."

This is not true, even if it was in the Guardian. Not all things that appear in print are true(gasp!)Yes, a few reunited relatives experience some kind of sexual attraction, even fewer act on it, but certainly not 50%. I have been involved in adoption reform groups for 35 years, have seen a lot of reunions. One woman, Barbara Gonyo, a reunited birthmother who experienced this kind of attraction to her adult son,coined the term "genetic sexual attraction" and has made a career out of sensationalizing this phenomenon, and the media picks it up because it is sensational. Ms. Gonyo has no credentials but goes around giving workshops at adoption reform conferences, generalizing her particular experience into a universal.

It is not the norm in reunion, far from it. Most reunited mothers and adult children are normal people who act in a normal and compassionate fashion towards each other. Some develop relationships, some just want information. Some become close, some do not. I am fortunate to have a relationship with the son I surrendered many years ago, and do not like to see reunions that for the most part are healthy and healing portrayed in this lurid light.

Another caution; most statistics having to do with adoption, either from pro or anti-adoption sites, are dubious and incomplete and more accurately reflect the bias of the particular group than scientific reality.
posted by mermayd at 4:52 AM on October 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


Yikes, what a set of disgusting characters: rich guy who can't keep zipper closed, opportunistic trophy wives (daughter included) queuing to open their legs for cash and gifts (10k salary for daddy's "non-profit"), ex-son-in-law who's either a complete schmuck or (far more likely) an extortionist, mud-digging journalists with an inflated opinion of themselves and their story. So, when is the Coën Brothers movie coming?
posted by Skeptic at 4:52 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Au contraire, Iteki, Jessica Alba has all that power and more. I don't know her, but if she entered my life and dangled sex in front of my nose, I would be under complete external control. You think I'm lying? I am not lying. Billions of dollars cannot compare.

Potomac, Wikipedia explicitly states that tabloid events do not merit inclusion. Your personal emotional interest in the story does not change their sensible guidelines. Also, I find your interpretation of the story demeaning to the woman, who is an adult. She cheated on her husband and that is her moral failure, not her father's. If she did it for cash, then that is her moral failing too, but the bits of text in the article strongly suggest that the romantic and libidinous feelings here were clearly two way. The Svengali "seduction" narrative is just a sexist frame kept alive by various flavors of cultural reactionary who infantilize female sexuality.
posted by dgaicun at 5:35 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The whole "I would kill to nail Jessica Alba" thing? Yeah, that really has nothing to do with this story.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:48 AM on October 9, 2010 [25 favorites]


i just retyped like 5 replies to that but i can't even. I'll go with a simple restatement of the facts of the article:

Very powerful rich guy instigates secret sexual relationship with long lost daughter. He gives her money and health care. She breaks it off with him, and he cuts her off. She agrees to return to secretly sleeping with him again and the money and help returns. He demands she cut her husband out of her life. She agrees. His own wife discovers the situation and wants a divorce. The whole thing degenerates as the daughter and her husband decide not to be bullied by the rich guy anymore. Everyone sues everyone. Some papers report on the story, and the father has the whole thing suppressed by an army of lawyers.

If this is tabloid journalism then so is Grey Gardens.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:53 AM on October 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Coen brothers would be lovely, but this story may as well have a dotted line around it with a caption that reads "Dick Wolf rip here."
posted by condour75 at 5:54 AM on October 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Svengali "seduction" narrative is just a sexist frame kept alive by various flavors of cultural reactionary who infantilize female sexuality.

I disagree with you, but is consent really the issue here? It's the breaking of a very large taboo (and a taboo that arises from the need to not have deformed inbred babies, for one) plus using zillion of dollars to keep that a secret by means of litigation.

As her father, and as somebody with more power than her, I'd say he has an obligation to not fuck with her head, to say nothing of her body. That he violated that obligation is one problem, but that he's throwing money about to harass journalists is another.
posted by angrycat at 5:59 AM on October 9, 2010


sour cream: the taboo that (some) societies place on incest is a result of calvinistic religious principles. genetic defects resulting from incest aren't much different than the number among general populations. the populations of rapa nui, pitcairn, carteret islands are examples from a huge number of cultures with limited and isolated gene pools. any geneticist would be able to explain to you that your own existence owes to some bit of inter-familial fucking.
posted by kitchenrat at 6:22 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kitchenrat: incest comes from Calvinism? Really? You'll find incest laws in the Code of Hammurabi, ca. 1792 BC. And to quote Hammurabi:

154. If a man be guilty of incest with his daughter, he shall be driven from the place (exiled).

Yeah, I don't think Hammurabi was a Calvinist.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:30 AM on October 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I meant "incest taboo," my bad.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:31 AM on October 9, 2010


This is like the Human Centipede of articles: just one long chain of assholes and bottom-feeders from start to the output on our screens.
posted by adipocere at 6:33 AM on October 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Some papers report on the story, and the father has the whole thing suppressed by an army of lawyers.

This is incorrect, the story has always been available in print and on the web. The Village Voice article claims that he tried to sue to have various aspects of the story sealed, and was unsuccessful every time.

Ortega dubiously insinuates that the man paid untold treasures to Internet thugs to spam Wikipedia until moderators deleted the entry. The talk history page, OTOH, suggests that very few Wikpedia editors took the entry as anything other than noise to begin with. (But maybe I'm getting paid to say this!!!!!!11111!)


I disagree with you, but is consent really the issue here?

This issue was in response to Kevin Street.

The whole "I would kill to nail Jessica Alba" thing? Yeah, that really has nothing to do with this story.

This was to illustrate the issue of consent, in response to Kevin Street. Just because a rich person or beautiful person asks you to do something, you are still fully accountable -- both legally and morally --for your actions. Rich and beautiful people are powerful. This may be unfortunate, but it is true. It's hard to resist the will of a powerful person, but we are still accountable for how we respond to extreme temptations.
posted by dgaicun at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suddenly feel an urge to re-read Eugenie de Franval.
posted by localroger at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2010


"an algae-bloom of scum-filled documents" For a moment I wasn't sure if this referred to the court documents or the article.
posted by HuronBob at 6:40 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no interest in taking from this womans agency by making assumptions. My point was more general about power imbalances, but I am dropping it now cos I think it's distracting and we obviously have incredibly different views on the topic.
posted by Iteki at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The talk history page, OTOH, suggests that very few Wikpedia editors took the entry as anything other than noise to begin with.

AFAICT the talk page for the original article has been completely scrubbed, and we can't tell what was going on there in terms of wiping the references to the "Daddy's Girl" article. What I think you are referring to is the 3rd (and only successful) deletion attempt. The first AfD has a bit more detail, which notes "The result was nomination withdrawn since article has been improved to include more sources which assert notability for sure."
posted by waraw at 6:56 AM on October 9, 2010


I get the feeling that a few folks might not have read all of the links so this might have been missed:

Thank you for linking to Tony's article. I'm glad to see this scumbag's past dredged up again.

I can offer some possibly interesting perspective on this incident. I was the Wikipedia editor who first created the Bruce McMahan page several years ago. I used the original Broward/Palm Beach New Times articles as my main source and was even nice enough to not call him out on his mail-order PhD.

Once the article entered Google and became a first-page hit for "Bruce McMahan", Bruce's hired gun from the law firm of Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP (www.linerlaw.com) emailed me proposing changes to the article. What a fuck up! The idiot didn't even know he could edit the article himself. I ignored him.

Bruce's PR firm wised up, and vandals began blanking the page. I kept restoring it, and we went back and forth. His PR firm soon figured out that they could actually re-write the pages instead of vandalize them. A resume was posted over the article. When I and several editors pushed back, several new but deeply concerned editors began inserting outright lies then tried to weaken the language of the daughter-fucking incident and bury it under mounds of glowing hagiography.

They accused me and a handful of editors as being members of a conspiracy to destroy Bruce. One of his daughters even jumped in with a ridiculously long apologia in the discussion page. The volume of edits and sock puppets knocked the fight out of me, but a handful of other editors kept up and actually expanded the article to cover far more of the daughter-fucking incident than my original stub.

Eventually, Bruce contacted Jimbo Wales, who directly intervened and had an admin settle the debate in favor of scrubbing ALL references to Bruce's daughter fucking from the article. For the next couple of years, the article became a paean to Bruce's charity work with the National Cristina Foundation and other bullshit. Bruce won. It stood this way for a long time until someone noticed that there was a random fluff piece floating around Wikipedia and proposed to delete it. Fuck it, I decided, and I voted to kill it.

Reddit, I implore you: vote this link up. Get it to the front page. Make Bruce McMahan and other rich people realize that when they try to suppress information with the tools of coercion and deception, free-speech-loving individuals will turn around and blow it up to the stratosphere.


My thoughts? Old media 1 - 0 New Media.
posted by i_cola at 7:06 AM on October 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


[Worth reading the whole Reddit thread as it's SEOlarious]
posted by i_cola at 7:08 AM on October 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wikipedia should edit the page to be accurate including the incest story, and then lock it. If the guy sues Wikipedia, he's just going to spread the story even more, which is the opposite of what he wants. It would give media outlets that usually wouldn't touch this a hook to publish about it. "We're not saying he's an incestuous money-filled scumbag, we're just reporting on the fact that he's suing Wikipedia for saying he's an incestuous money-filled scumbag." I don't think a lawsuit is as automatic as Wikipedia supposes (although, given this guys penchant for them, maybe it is). And Wikipedia has the truth defense, which would be even more fun to litigate again in another federal court!
posted by shen1138 at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2010


The taboo that society places on incest is a result of the increased risk of genetic defects - in other words, societies that ban incest will have a better gene pool in the long run.

Apparently, at the time Leviticus was written, practical genetics were known and used:

the offspring of a father-daughter union (not forbidden in Leviticus) shares 3/4 of the genes with the father while the offspring of a father-granddaughter union (specifically forbidden in Leviticus) shares 7/8 of the genes, greatly increasing the risk of genetic defects.
posted by francesca too at 8:08 AM on October 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


What a creep. The McMahan story disgusts me, less for the incest and more for the manipulation and abuse of power. What a creep.

But even creepier are some of the comments in this thread. I'm not sure whether we've got SEO-bots defending their choice of (creepy, assholic) profession, or father-daughter fuckers defending their lifestyle.

Frankly, I'd prefer the latter. SEO-bots are sociopathic jerks who shit in the public pool to make a buck. McMahan's problems are, at least, not made our problem.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:10 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a bullshit story. There isn't even anything on Wikipedia on it.
posted by Xoebe at 8:19 AM on October 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


The morals of Oedipus and Elektra have nothing to do with genetics.
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2010


That article was vindictive and petty.
posted by Bonzai at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So is Jimbo Wales a rich enough asshole now that he has to cave in to other rich assholes?
posted by umberto at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2010


I wasn't aware Wikipedia needed an article on every pervert out there.

The notable ones would be enough.


You know how wikipedia works right?
posted by Bonzai at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2010


I do have to admit that I enjoyed the "FUCK YOU" tone of the linked article. "Sure, you can scour Wikipedia, BUT YOU CAN'T STOP THE PRESS!"

Of course, these days daddy-fucker could probably just buy their paper and put it out of business immediately, but until then... you can't stop the press!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:07 AM on October 9, 2010


Did anyone else get the feeling that she was really into it at the time, and now wants to go back and yell from a mountain how gross it is? I'm not siding with the dude because he is gross, but i don't quite understand where his daughter stands in the middle of all this. She was an active participant, what changed? And why, after it changed, did her entire stance on this situation seem to change too.
posted by djduckie at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


“The real difference between the Rich and the Others is not just that ‘they have money,’ as Hemmingway noted, but that money is not a governing factor in their lives, as it is with people who work for a living. The truly rich are born free, like dolphins; they will never feel hungry, and their credit will never be questioned. Their daughters will be debutantes and their sons will go to prep schools, and if their cousins are junkies and lesbians, so what? The breeding of humans is still an imperfect art, even with all the advantages.”
- Hunter S. Thompson, “Love on the Palm Beach Express: The Pulitzer Divorce Trial
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on October 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


She was an active participant, what changed?

Daddy wasn't content to have an affair, he wanted his daughter to cut her husband out of her life so that Daddy and daughter could could have a marriage in everything but legal fact.

And why, after it changed, did her entire stance on this situation seem to change too.

She seemed to understand, at that point, that the affair with her father was much more unhealthy than just incest; that it was part of a weird control complex her father had, and that she'd sunk deeply into a really goofy and gross situation that had destroyed her marriage.

Sometimes you need to be covered in shit before you understand what that bad smell is.
posted by fatbird at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


But even creepier are some of the comments in this thread. I'm not sure whether we've got SEO-bots defending their choice of (creepy, assholic) profession, or father-daughter fuckers defending their lifestyle.

Simply put, five fresh fish, we have neither.

But we do have have people actually reading the post and links and recognizing that they are in part about professional SEO being used to promote this guy's "charitable works", thereby burying any reference to his unequal and barely consensual relationship with his daughter.

We also have people (myself included) recognizing that such a multi link post, on this site, functions as a kind of community sourced SEO that will reverse the efforts of those professionals. In short it's a community based strategy that returns reference to David Bruce McMahon's incestuous relationship with his daughter to the first page of google.

When this first hit reddit, the village voice blog post was at page 7 of a google.com search for David Bruce McMahan. When it hit this site it was still on page 2. Right now it's the fifth link on page 1.

When I searched google.com.au earlier today for David Bruce McMahan, I got nothing except charities and cars. Right now
-The first link is to the Wikipedia article for deletion page.
-The fourth is a youtube link to David Bruce McMahon's daughter's testimony.
-The sixth is to somethingawful.com's thread about David Bruce McMahan fucking his daughter.
-The tenth is to a blog post from one of the original reddit commenters discussing how David Bruce McMahan silenced the media with regard to his incestuous relationship.

In short, for the time being, David McMahon is back on the front page of Google not as a kindly and charitable car enthusiast, but as a pretty disturbed guy.

If you really want to, you can call me a sociopath for finding that change in the search rankings, and the community action that forced it, much more fascinating than his sex life.

But I'd appreciate it if you didn't also call me SEO-bot or a daughter fucker, for I am neither.
posted by Ahab at 10:33 AM on October 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Near-universal opprobrium probably had something to do with the daughter's change of heart. Every single person you will ever meet, whispering behind your back? Not worth a billion, not to most people.

What a creepy situation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:41 AM on October 9, 2010


McMahan, who was then around his 59th birthday, asked his daughter, 29, to move to his bedroom and watch the first 30 minutes of the movie Braveheart. He wanted her to see the love story and clandestine wedding that unfolds in the opening act of Mel Gibson's film because, Linda testified, it reminded him of his relationship with her.Then McMahan really started to lay it on thick. Linda testified he told her he believed they'd been married in a previous life...

"He asked me what it would be like to kiss me."

Later that night, he found out.


I didn't think anything could make Braveheart's faked historical atrocity stories much creepier, but, by golly, this delivers.
posted by Flitcraft at 10:47 AM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, HST's piece is about a fairly wild divorce story that also involves the filthy rich in Florida. Some things never change...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:56 AM on October 9, 2010


thinkpiece writes: This women met this very wealthy man -- her father -- when she was an adult, 29.

This is false. Did you even bother to read the article?
posted by washburn at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2010


Sometimes you need to be covered in shit before you understand what that bad smell is.

That hasn't been my experience.
posted by layceepee at 2:49 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's my philosophy - I don't get to choose who other people fuck. As long as nobody is underage and nobody is getting raped, it's none of my business.
I don't care if some other guy wants to have sex with his aunt while covered in peanut butter and dressed as a carrot. That's their business, not mine, and I certainly don't have the right to tell them not to do it.
posted by w0mbat at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's their business, not mine, and I certainly don't have the right to tell them not to do it.

Does that mean that you suspend all judgment on whether or not a relationship is a good or bad idea, or is likely to end well or badly, or perhaps could have been usefully aborted early on before you pseudo-marry your father?
posted by fatbird at 3:22 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


As long as nobody is underage and nobody is getting raped, it's none of my business.

I made the point satirically in an earlier post and I guess I should be more direct:

If you believe the credo about "the freedom of consenting adults to engage in private sexual relations," there's no reason to criticize the McMahans. After all, if this guy spent his free time with HIV+ rentboys or a gaggle of crack whores, he wouldn't have to hire that PR agency.
posted by Yakuman at 3:31 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me in some weird way about the recent New Yorker piece on Rachel Yould (subscribers only, unfortunately)
posted by gottabefunky at 3:35 PM on October 9, 2010


If you believe the credo about "the freedom of consenting adults to engage in private sexual relations," there's no reason to criticize the McMahans.

This is unnecessarily prissy. I have the freedom to go to a bar and take all comers in the back room. My freedom to do so says nothing about whether not I should do it.

There's a difference between criticizing their choices and preventing them from exercising their ability to choose. Believing that the latter is wrong in no way forbids the former.
posted by fatbird at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god. A couple of facts some folks seem to have forgotten:

a) Incest is - in general - illegal.
b) Incest avoidance is virtually ubiquitous across the animal kingdom (if you're a plant full-sibling pollination is A-OK, but then again so is self-pollination so there you go).

It doesn't matter if she consented (though you should note that the power-play in this situation makes the issue of consent incredibly murky). This was incest occurring between a rich man and his arguably financially dependent for part of the time (remember, she was also his employee) daughter.

Not OK, mefites, just... not.

Apart from everything else, this man used his wealth and power to try to censor the free media. ALSO NOT OK. Bloody hell, how clear-cut does it need to be.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 3:48 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eventually, Bruce contacted Jimbo Wales, who directly intervened and had an admin settle the debate in favor of scrubbing ALL references to Bruce's daughter fucking from the article.

If that's true, it's among the more yech-y things about this mess, which is really saying something.
posted by mediareport at 4:00 PM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Incest is - in general - illegal.

So's smoking a joint, and yet while I have no interest in doing that, either, it tells me nothing about the moral value of something to say it's illegal.

Incest avoidance is virtually ubiquitous across the animal kingdom

Leaving aside the whole naturalistic fallacy - am I allowed to kill my girlfriend's kids from a previous relationship because lions do it? - your grasp on "nature" appears to exclude cats, rats, various species of snake, dogs, and, no doubt, a bunch of others.
posted by rodgerd at 5:20 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rodgerd, for the sake of clarity I summarised the status quo as it relates to incest and incest-avoidance in the animal kingdom. The study of animal behaviour and evolutionary genetics is my profession, so if you really, really, want to get into a citation war with me feel free to call me out on:

my grasp on 'nature' [that] appears to exclude cats, rats, various species of snake, dogs, and, no doubt, a bunch of others.


There are a lot of assumptions in your post: methinks you jumped to a conclusion or two there. I can direct you to a great deal of literature that covers the nuances of this field of research (i.e. evolutionary ecology), should you require it for your interest.

Also of note, you may not be allowed by law to kill your girlfriend's kids from a previous relationship but the likelihood of infanticide in human households is higher when step-children are involved. Again, there is a great deal of literature in this area.

My point on incest being illegal was not directed towards the morality of the situation. Rather, I made this point in relation to the legal aspect of the cases being discussed in the thread. It is beyond me how this bloke can commit a crime and then use his wealth to avoid the social stigma associated with the crime. It's like Polanski all over again.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 6:11 PM on October 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Forget about genetics and whether animals do stuff.

Among us humans, in modern societies, incest is illegal because it's really harmful and can leave people broken for life. We have social and biological mechanisms to prevent it. They don't always work (what does?), but that's no reason to say that they shouldn't be there nor that the incest taboo is some sort of atavistic hangover from pre-modern times.

People harmed through incest kill themselves, go on to hurt others, or lead quiet lives that are incomplete and miserable.

It's not impossible for incestuous relationships to happen without harm, in the same way that it's not impossible for an alcoholic pilot to fly 747s for thirty years without incident. Mostly, bad things happen, and there is no way to normalise behaviour that irreparably distorts every aspect of how we consider ourselves in relation to others.

Incest is utterly corrosive, and utterly contagious. By any sort of standard that I can think of, that makes such behaviour immoral.

As for suppressing the press through influence and power: also bad. But here we are talking about it, on a forum that close to a billion people can read. If we can keep things that way, we may yet out-evolve that particular behaviour pattern.
posted by Devonian at 3:45 AM on October 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


This FPP and its antecedent contain stuff for a dozen possible topics on the Blue. Everything about this story, from creepy Bruce McMahan, to creepy SEO, to "genetic sexual attraction" and whether it is or it isn't, to Tony Ortega's smarmy, sanctimonious writing, to antiquated torts that liken women to chattel, is, just,... Here! Have a STARBURST. --Whoops! SORRY. They're all filled with pus.

It's going to be a beautiful Indian summer day here today, and while I relish quiet morning reflections as I walk along beautiful Lake Michigan I will also ponder why any folks need that many didoes.

posted by applemeat at 5:06 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


People harmed through incest --or, you know, anything-- kill themselves, go on to hurt others, or lead quiet lives that are incomplete and miserable.
posted by applemeat at 5:09 AM on October 10, 2010


Devonian: "Incest is utterly corrosive, and utterly contagious. By any sort of standard that I can think of, that makes such behaviour immoral."

And by any sort of standard I can think of, a rational person will want some hard evidence that consensual incest between adults who are (presumably) being careful not to reproduce is, in fact, "utterly corrosive, and utterly contagious" before broadly declaring it immoral.
posted by gilrain at 5:15 AM on October 10, 2010


..a rational person will want some hard evidence that consensual incest between adults who are (presumably) being careful not to reproduce is, in fact, "utterly corrosive, and utterly contagious" before broadly declaring it immoral.

I'm with gilrain there. And I can't imagine what is "utterly contagious" about sexual relationships that make most of us recoil.

Same controversy was recently explored in this thread.
posted by applemeat at 5:30 AM on October 10, 2010


gilrain - What's the cut-off point?

I drink alcohol, and that's considered immoral in many places and by many people. In some contexts - driving - it pretty clearly is immoral. Mostly, in our world, it isn't thought immoral, and most of our experiences of alcohol are not harmful.

In the context of nearly all incest, it is harmful. At what point does an activity that is overwhelmingly harmful qualify as immoral - or can that never happen without 100 percent harm done?

Applemeat - by contagion, I mean that people who are abused through incest often go on to become abusers themselves. And it can be subtler than that: the man who was abused as a boy, and then refuses to have children himself because he doesn't trust himself, makes his wife deeply unhappy, because she does.
posted by Devonian at 8:06 AM on October 10, 2010


I'm not entirely sure what to think about the daughter. But I do know, from my own youth, that very narcissistic people who are also highly charismatic can talk you in to doing things that are well beyond your better judgment. Especially if you were raised by narcissistic parents to begin with and your imago is all hosed up. I will agree 110% that this man's actions, in their entirety, are utterly reprehensible.

(Glad I only agreed to grow a large quantity of pot in my second bedroom.)
posted by PuppyCat at 8:18 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Devonian: the man who was abused as a boy, and then refuses to have children himself because he doesn't trust himself, makes his wife deeply unhappy, because she does

Actually, if you don't know this about your potential husband you should not be marrying him. My wife and I were in agreement before we started dating that neither of us wanted kids, both of us for reasons concerning hellish childhoods, and nearly 30 years later as we are leaving middle age still kidless neither of us is the slightest bit upset about the whole kidless thing.
posted by localroger at 8:24 AM on October 10, 2010


Devonian: "gilrain - What's the cut-off point?

I drink alcohol, and that's considered immoral in many places and by many people. In some contexts - driving - it pretty clearly is immoral.
"

The cut-off point for actual immorality, which you are arguing rather than just inadvisability, is debatable, but perhaps when it has a negative impact on any non-consenting persons. As drunk driving most certainly does have, for instance.

You are speaking from a place of heavy emotions and general common sense. You still haven't established any basis for declaring the act of incest between consenting adults as broadly immoral. I would agree that incest is almost always inadvisable. I would hesitate to declare it immoral in all circumstances, as you seem to be arguing. That's a broad brush you're painting with.
posted by gilrain at 10:24 AM on October 10, 2010


And to anticipate a further argument: the uncertain possibility of incestuous relationships negatively impacting non-consenting others, such as children, is a separate moral issue. The decision to allow or propagate such influence is a separate decision.

For instance, would you condemn a sadomasochist in a consenting relationship merely because others with similar psychology propagate suffering inappropriately? The one is possible without the other, and the immorality is in its handling, not in the lifestyles themselves.

The argument is probably over the definition of "immoral." The difference is that, to me, "broadly inadvisable" is not equal to "utterly immoral."
posted by gilrain at 10:32 AM on October 10, 2010


« Older How to Degauss a Cat...  |  A mechanic noticed a strange d... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments