By Mike Weland
A former comic and his followers, whom he calls his “bears,” have loudly protested his upstanding nature and good intentions in the wake of an article published Tuesday regarding the concerns of neighbors in the Earl Lane neighborhood where Big Bear Owen Benjamin bought property, but their responses are becoming decidedly unneighborly.
Almost immediately after publication, letters began coming in and comments inundated the KVT Facebook tease, soon becoming uncivil enough to warrant deleting. Phone calls from “bears” began coming in at about 3 a.m. Wednesday and continued until around 8 a.m., demanding retraction and the sources of the story, identities not published in respect for their concern of retaliation.
“I think your article and the people behind this article are a complete disgrace not only for the once proud “Nation,” now submitted by the rampant ignorance of the people, but mostly for the spirit of those who once ruled this land and warned us really clearly about abusive powers and its tactics,” Robert Johnson wrote in reply to the article, “Former comic riles neighbors with ‘Bearteria’ plans. “By the way, you may want to start treating these guys with much more respect; these will be the people who will really build the Nation back from the ashes and the engineered disaster is being under.”
“Your Owen Benjamin story is laughable,” Shick wrote in a compendium of emailed letters published here. “I’m not a bear, but I’ve listened on and off to Owen over the past year. He spends most of his time encouraging people to build things and grow crops. Basic self sufficiency as a lost art. Oh, he would probably suggest that you stay away from pop culture, drugs and porn. After all, health is for the mind, body and soul. Regarding the property, he has noted that it can be a camping retreat or possibly a wedding venue.”
“I perceive the published article as threats to me, a man. I am giving you NOTICE of Trespass, Defamation and Slander that you MIKE WELAND, may correct the mistake of Trespass, Defamation and Slander within 1 day of this letter,” Hector Becerra, also called Hector Bear AR, wrote. “The Fee Schedule for failure to correct mistake of Trespass, Defamation and Slander for every day that mistake is not corrected: 1,000 troy ounces of .999 gold (money); or equivalent Federal Reserve Notes equal to 1,000 troy ounce .999 gold value, by cashier’s check and or electronic bank transfer to my personal bank account, equal to 1,000 troy ounce .999 gold value, paid within 21 days of order given and or trespass; My intent is peace and harmony and wishes no ill will to anyone.”
“Dear Grabbler $@#! sucker, defamation lawsuit inbound,” Jed Sinsheimer wrote succinctly. According to a former bear, “Grabbler” is allegedly a word Owen and his followers use to refer to those of Jewish faith.
“Owen has been an enormously positive influence on my life,” Jennifer Perez Lopez wrote. “His message has always been to bloom where you are planted, to focus on growing and not engaging in drama. He encourages people to have children and raise them with love. In real time, during the January 6th Capitol riot, Owen was telling anyone who would listen to never go to an event like that. That if you were there now, to leave immediately. He was against it and advising his audience to stop participating as it was unfolding in real time. He despises war. The idea of him creating a paramilitary training camp is not only insane, it’s criminally actionable libel and slander.”
The words of Owen Benjamin himself, posted on multiple social media outlets, including YouTube, belie that wholesome, happy image.
On Thursday, two gentlemen came into my back yard as I was cleaning a batch of rocks I’m tumbling, camera and sound gear on. They identified themselves as Owen Benjamin’s film crew, and began telling me what a wonderful man the 40-year-old Benjamin was and questioning me about my sources for the article, asking if I was ashamed of myself for causing such a fine man and his family harm.
But it wasn’t long before that line of questioning dried up.
“Where’d you get that earring?” the cameraman/interviewer asked.
“A friend,” I replied. It had belonged to that friend’s deceased step-father, a token of Alcoholic’s Anonymous and symbol of his fight against addiction. It was given me for encouragement after I quit drinking a few years ago after years entrapped by my own addiction.
I was told, however, and with utmost certainty, that this was a symbol of pedophilia.
With that, I asked both to please leave my yard and they complied.
After finishing with my lapidary work for the day, I returned inside, had lunch and checked my email.
“Thank you for writing the article exposing Owen Benjamin’s cult compound in Idaho,” one read. “Unfortunately, it attracted his sycophants as well as drawn his ire. Personally, I can’t stand him and am repulsed by his views and those of his followers. I originally thought he was curating a place for sharing ideas about homesteading, living off grid, etc. and was interested in the nuts and bolts aspect of them. It only took a day or two to realize that was far from the case. He peddles hate, conspiracies, racism, doomsday scenarios but above all is running a grift where people send thousands of dollars to him on a monthly basis. I still have him on my Instagram feed and thought you should see his attack on you from his @rabbiofjudah profile today. Apologies for being the messenger!”
There was a picture of me, just taken, in a screen shot of a social media post that already had 654 likes.
“We interviewed mike weland who wrote the article about me falsely claiming I’m a cult leader,” rabbiofjudah wrote. “Turns out he had a pedo triangle symbol dangle earring, when asked about became very uncomfortable. Look into this guys writings on pedophilia. I don’t have a paramilitary militia, but I’m pretty sure, allegedly, he’s a pedo.”
It wasn’t a look of discomfort, I assure you, but of incredulousness, and the photo captures precisely the moment I decided I’d had enough of this camera crew and became absolutely certain that the concerns raised regarding Owen Benjamin and his merry band of bears have merit and deserve attention.
I’m not yet quite to the point, though, at which I feel it appropriate to demand an immediate retraction and “Federal Reserve Notes equal to 1,000 troy ounce .999 gold value, by cashier’s check and or electronic bank transfer to my personal bank account, equal to 1,000 troy ounce .999 gold value, paid within 21 days of order given and or trespass.”