A controversial group that previously announced that a location in Mt. Juliet would be part of a global "meetup" canceled their plans Wednesday evening.
The original announcement, hosted by Return of Kings, a self-proclaimed men's rights group, caught the attention of Mt. Juliet Police Sunday evening, according to a release from the department. In addition, the department has received multiple messages from many concerned residents regarding the activity, which is understandable given the rhetoric promoted by such group.
Big Star Cigar Lounge NOT happy
The Mt. Juliet businessman was not happy his shop was listed as a "meet-up spot" for the Internet anti-feminist group.
The group was founded by Internet personality, blog host and self-published writer Daryush Valizadeh, also known as Roosh V, who claims to be able to help men seduce women.
Roosh V has self-published 15 books with titles such as Bang, Bang Columbia and Day Bang, which claim to give men tips to assert dominance and become more attractive to women in order to sleep with them. He also owns the website ReturnofKings.com, which describes many of his beliefs.
Just as famous as his claims of male dominance are his alleged anti-feminist rants, stating that a woman's value is almost totally reliant on their appearance and fertility. His writings and followers have been tied to misogyny and even the promotion of rape and violence towards women.
MJ business singled-out
Although the Internet is filled with various opinions, Roosh V's reach hit close to home earlier this week when his website, Return of Kings, organized a "Worldwide Meetup Day" for his like-minded readers on Feb. 6 which included a Mt. Juliet business as one of three Tennessee locations.
However, the owner of the business listed, Big Star Cigar Lounge, located at 3384 N. Mt. Juliet Rd., said this "meetup" is not welcome.
"We are in no way affiliated with this organization, and frankly I have no idea why they used our address," said owner Tony Benken.
With directions more commonly found in spy novels, the readers who wished to attend one of the meetups were told to ask a coded question to determine the authenticity of other participants.
According to Roosh V's website, readers were asked to park at Big Star Cigar Lounge's location between 8 and 8:20 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, and ask a person there "Do you know where I can find a pet shop?" If the man replies, "Yes, it is right here," the website says the reader can then introduce themselves and will be given the location of the actual final meeting location.
Benken said he learned about his business listing on the website after a customer mentioned it to him earlier this week.
"We have had no contact with anyone from the organization," he added. "We contacted Mt. Juliet Police and spoke with (MJPD) Chief (James) Hambrick at length, and anyone who shows up will be escorted off the property."
Benken said his business, which caters to specialty cigar and pipe tobacco, is not open at the time of the meetup, as it normally closes at 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
MJPD to increase patrols in area
Hambrick confirmed that they will have patrols in the area even though the event has been canceled. And although they are not looking for problems, they are doing their due diligence to keep the peace.
"We definitely don't support (the meetup), especially due to their rhetoric they promote," Hambrick said. "They are unwelcomed. But, unfortunately, they have a right to express their opinions, and they haven't doing anything illegal."
The chief said before the cancellation he hoped no one will show up to protest the event either, as when two parties of differing opinions interact, that is when conflicts arise. He said he wants to "minimize conflicts."
The website stated that there were 165 scheduled "meetups" in 45 countries. Organizers attempted to reschedule locations via the website Wednesday afternoon, but it was announced later they decided to cancel all meetings.
And many in Mt. Juliet are glad that their home won't be one of them.
Managing Editor Zack Owensby may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.