My name is Martin and I'd like to offer a case against presenting Rick Dyer's Bigfoot exhibit at your establishment.
I don't deny or contest your right to do it. I certainly don't want to keep people from making up their own minds. (No one needs to see the thing in person to do that.) And I am not offended that Dyer's antics mock the Bigfoot community, a presumed reason for opposing him that has been misapplied in this case.
Nor am I a scold or a concern troll. In fact, I think the title of your event, "An Evening With Bigfoot," is pretty hilarious, and might even inspire Hal Holbrook to develop a new one-Squatch show. (To lift a remark attributed by an anonymous wag to another supposed dead Bigfoot: "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated; so have reports of my existence.")
The issue is not that Rick Dyer is an impostor; it's that he is being portrayed as a latter-day Robert Ripley, an offbeat populist adventurer offering his Believe-It-Or-Not behemoth as a peek-a-boo diversion to the masses for a few expendable dollars. But this is not the entertainment tradition he embodies.
Dyer represents the exploitative legacy of sideshow exhibits, except his victims are not kept in cages—not literally at least. Dyer's exploitation is of the very people your promotion will help him attract: his followers, the people looking for hope behind a tattered curtain.
You've no doubt received a crash course in Why Rick Dyer Is A Bad Guy 101. Lectures include how he invites believers to work in his home for weeks on end with the promise of payment, only to discard them without wage or good word when their demoralized souls are of no further use.
How he collects charitable donations on his website through links that send the payments to his rabbit-hole PayPal account without distinguishing the benefactors' intent from those who are just paying for hyper-hyped products that are never delivered.
And how he lashes out when confronted or abandoned, not with argument but with maniacal slander, posting on his blog that his perceived "haters" are convicted rapists, child molesters, prostitution addicts, and lovers of animals, forever to be labeled thusly in search engine results.
Dyer's crimes also have been official ones; he is no stranger to the bright lights of the mug-shot camera. In addition, his accomplice "Musky" Allen Issleb, whose long and thorough description of the dead Bigfoot body in February 2013 helped immeasurably to attract people to Dyer, was one of only 14 people among those named in over 2,000 complaints who ultimately were sued by the Illinois attorney general for scamming homeowners.
Yes, you read that right. Both men share a public record of fraud—as well as other unlovely offenses, such as battery against women. But now, as in 2008 when he perpetuated his best-known of four prior hoaxes, he openly dares anyone to arouse the interest of federal authorities, betting that the stakes are too low and the subject matter too fanciful for the FBI to take an interest in the multiple complaints that have been filed against him.
And that's the point. You have a neat place, and the "Only At The Alamo" series is a cool throwback to an earlier, romanticized age of American entertainment. But you are not launching Carl Denham's Eighth Wonder of the World. You are enabling a cynical confidence game cobbled together by a couple of criminals who are counting on our desire not only to know the unknowable but also to celebrate and reward the redemption of souls.
Your exposure will earn Dyer more followers who are lulled along with you by his folksy and self-deprecating manner, the very mask of the sociopath. These individuals will become more fodder for the financial sustenance he desperately and sometimes criminally extracts from his followers—at times amounting to thousands of dollars from a single person or family—and if they leave they'll be subject to his conscience-free style of terrible vengeance.
Why do we care? Over the past six years, some of us have been victimized by his wrath ourselves, whether or not we once were followers. Others have watched it happen to dear friends and loved ones. None of wants to see it happen to anyone else.
Please reconsider your decision to facilitate Rick Dyer's access to a broader array of victims of any type. Just because they will align themselves with him willingly does not mean they deserve whatever consequences befall them. Yes, most people will simply laugh at Dyer and his campy theatrics, but in doing so they'll unwittingly enable him to perpetuate his own seamy brand of sideshow exploitation. Please do not resurrect the dark side of the phenomenon you celebrate.
Thank you very much.
Martin, a "Hater"