MUFON under fire for PA director’s absurd racist rant (UPDATE: Ventre removed)

See June 04, 2017 update below

The Mutual UFO network headquarters issued a “non-pology” saying they can’t police people’s personal views after PA Director, John Ventre, posted a racist rant on his personal Facebook page about a Netflix series.

Note the five “likes” on this post. UFOlogy is dominated by conspiracy ideas and run almost entirely by older white men. From following the history of flare-ups in the MUFON community, it’s clear they have problems across the board. Blatant racism might just come along with the crowd. The stench of pseudoscience is also all over the nonsense in the FB post by Ventre which consists of several outright untruths. That seems to be a recurring theme for some high-profile UFO researchers – promotion of ideology through pseudoscience and conspiratorial ideas.

The avoidance response by MUFON HQ, written by Jan C. Harzan, Executive Director, is not going over too well. Ventre has been “censored” by MUFON and removed from some features. The comments reveal that several people would like him gone completely and for MUFON to outright disavow this ugly sentiment.

Back in September, MUFON revealed they are trying to “rebrand” their org. Good luck. That’s a lot of stink to be removed.

Thanks to Lance Moody for the tip.

UPDATE: (4-June 2017) After a delay, MUFON has removed Ventre as director of the PA branch as of May 31 according to Kevin Randle who said the news went directly to other state directors. Ventre was unapologetic and still spouting absurd claims about demons and such. Also of note, author of many popular UFO-related books Nick Redfern has severed ties with MUFON after “Harzan had labeled him as a hater for objecting to Ventre’s rant”. So it appears, this was too little, too late. And MUFON did basically nothing to clean themselves from this very ugly incident.

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  21 comments for “MUFON under fire for PA director’s absurd racist rant (UPDATE: Ventre removed)

  1. RandyRandy
    May 19, 2017 at 1:08 PM

    Stink? Mutual Use of Febreze Odor Neutralizer. STAT.

  2. May 19, 2017 at 1:28 PM

    I took a look at Ventre’s personal CV page where he manages to hit numerous whacked out conspiracies in his highly ungrammatical rant. I have to admit that I’m particularly persnickety about random capitalization, possibly because it indicates a complete lack of awareness of punctuation and unwillingness to let other people vet the copy.

    “Non-pology” is exactly right. This is the possibly the lamest response to outright racist, hate speech that I’ve ever seen. In fact, as soon as I see the term “haters hating” I know that some nonsense will follow. I was not disappointed:

    “Who is worse, the person posting, or the haters hating? … It was recently brought to my attention that one of our volunteers had posted a comment on their personal Facebook page that many found offensive.”

    …”that many found offensive”: sheesh!

  3. May 19, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    Well apparently not 5 people who “liked” it.

  4. Bob
    May 19, 2017 at 5:24 PM

    I am amazed that Mr. Harzan allows Mr. Ventre to still operate at Pennsylvania MUFON, or elsewhere in their organization.
    I have personally spoken to Mr. Harzan two years ago about Mr. Ventre’s behavior with respect to several of my clients. He admitted that there were a lot of “mentally ill people and egomaniacs in MUFON” and he assured me that he would “try to clean the mess up” that he inherited.
    Obviously, Mr. Harzan is not up to the task!

  5. May 19, 2017 at 6:42 PM

    Your “clients”? Can you describe the context in which his behavior inappropriate? I would like solid evidence, please, not just hearsay or rumors. I don’t think the rest of the MUFON people would appreciate being under that umbrella of “mentally ill people and egomaniacs” since many of them are clearly not.

  6. William Christie
    May 19, 2017 at 7:37 PM

    Let me see if I understand this. Supposedly MUFON investigates UFOS, which are supposedly piloted by entities from another planet or dimension. So John Ventre is OK with aliens visiting Earth, but continues to have problems with fellow humans who have a darker skin than he has. Does anyone see the illogic in this?

    I am not surprised though, since I have encountered many popular ufology “stars” who are politically more right wing than Donald Trump! Again, they may welcome alien visitors, but god forbid that a gay person marry another gay person or a racial minority be given equal treatment to the “White Man”.

  7. terry the censor
    May 20, 2017 at 12:25 AM

    Ventre is also the chap who suggested Malaysia Airline 370 was abducted by aliens.

  8. May 20, 2017 at 12:34 AM

    Write on, Terry!

  9. James
    May 20, 2017 at 6:10 PM

    Many of us inside of Mufon are very upset about this and I personally would not accept anything less than complete a separation from Mr. Ventre and a better response from Jan.

  10. Graham
    May 21, 2017 at 3:25 AM

    It does not surprise me in the slightest, conspiracy magnetism is a well known fact.

  11. Idoubtit
    May 22, 2017 at 7:11 PM

    Ventre is right#

  12. May 23, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    Sanitizing has begun. Harzan’s MUFON post had 31 comments yesterday, now it’s down to 23. The posts with links to articles on the fiasco have been deleted, as well as some negative comments on the organization. However, there’s one new one.

    MUFON’s communications director, Roger Marsh, has added a new comment, a bizarre rant about Ventre, defending his honor while criticizing him for a range of things including being a publicity whore and “serving cheap food at his mansion.”

  13. May 23, 2017 at 8:34 AM

    They’re digging the hole deeper eh? Trying to hide something? This is ugly stuff. I’m thinking this org should die and be rebuilt with new people.

  14. May 23, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    There was not a thing Ventre said that was “right” except if you are describing political leaning. His comments were historically incorrect and his sentiment was ethically despicable. If you agree with him, get the hell off my site and don’t come back. I don’t tolerate such utter shit.

  15. May 23, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    All comments are now removed on the MUFON site after a bizarre, late night rambling rant from
    Director Of Communications, Roger Marsh.

    My expanded commentary is here:

    http://highstrangenessshow.com/mufon-historic-gross-incompetence-or-a-hidden-agenda/

  16. Hug H
    May 25, 2017 at 4:35 PM

    Apparently being open minded about unexplained phenomenon leaves some suceptible to being “open minded” to sinister forces and ideologies that NEVER go away.

    Two relevant quotes come to mind-

    “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”
    John Steinbeck

    “Beware always of the loudmouth taking advantage of the situation and appealing to a crowd’s meanest nature.”
    NYC Columnist Jimmy Breslin about Donald Trump in 1989

    How soonly and sadly we forget….

  17. LarsOfMars
    May 27, 2017 at 12:02 AM

    Open letter to John V
    entre;Pa Mufon dir.(?)
    As a third generation
    white American,I found
    your comments repuls-
    ive!My grandparents
    arrived at Ellis Island in 1902,both illiterate
    by your lofty standards.
    But they both knew three letters,USA.They
    worked very hard and the prejudice against them was incredibly
    difficult,because you
    See Mr.Ventri your Brit.
    European ancestors,were in control of the wheels,calendars and numbering systems!
    They were so worried that the good old boy network they had all gorged themselves on for so long might be compromised,or god forbid,any of the obscene money accumulated that afforded them their choice of schools,jobs,area to lo-
    cate.etc.
    Mr.ventre you state in your manifesto that’the last thing the blacks want is for the white males to organize”Mr.Ventre I believe you already have,its called the KKK!
    This brings me to my last two points Mr.Ventre;Shut the fuck up you self righteous,pompous,arr-ogant jack ass!!
    One last thing,and I want to end on a positive note.There is a lady that’s battling one of Ventre’s buddies at Mufon.You see if you were a lady under him,
    he expected them to be”under him”.She was forced to resign,and well he read the book”The Best Defense IsA Good Offense”.
    Her show is on Fri.4-6pm,on kcor digital.She
    is a wonderful human being that just happens to run my favorite ufo-
    logy/paranormal show.
    Any of the aforementioned details may be verified at her
    website.So come on
    let’s all give her the support she deserves!!
    You can help us “drain Mufon’s swamp”&shine all our lights on the dark,unacceptable behavior in the little boys room.
    Thank You,:
    ps,great chat room!!!
    I’ll see you there…..Your
    only a stranger once!

  18. Kevin
    May 30, 2017 at 4:17 AM

    How such a racist became the head of mufon for a state is beyond me, an unabashed believer in the ufo phenomenon, a phenomenon that should unify more than divide humanity. I assure you his kind is the minority in our community, a community that likes to fancy itself enlightened.

  19. Jade
    June 2, 2017 at 7:15 AM

    @Kevin

    “I assure you his kind is the minority in our community, a community that likes to fancy itself enlightened.”

    I can assure you it is not.

    I have witnessed extreme racism and bigotry as a common thing in the UFO/Conspiracy circles. You see I am a student who until 2015 spent far too much time on Above Top Secret. Usually I would bring interesting news from the world of astrobiology, exoplanets, etc to their Space Exploration board. Occasionally I would examine the UFO subject from a scientific/skeptical standpoint.

    I even took a critical look at MUFON’s tax records asking why they file as an Astronomical Organization and if that constituted tax fraud: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1073570/pg1

    All of that was welcomed until…

    I started seeing very vile racist, homophobic and transphobic posts in some of the other forums. Until that point I had been completely anonymous but I felt as someone they knew and trusted and liked reading, I could do some good if I outed myself as being bi-racial and a former transkid who is now in college.

    Was I ever wrong! Instead, people who starred my posts, the equivalent of upvoting, turned on me saying the meanest things. The n-word was used, I was misgendered as male (though I never identified as male or went through male puberty).

    My dad (who is white) read some of the vile stuff and he and my mother got involved to try to do some education in a kind of “We’re Jade’s parents AMA” thread.

    That made matters worse.

    I received so many hate messages sent by private message that I decided I wanted nothing else to do with ATS but I wondered why people who claimed to want “open contact with extraterrestrials” would be so hateful to their fellow human beings.

    In my investigation I used a site which tracks web traffic and commonalities in that traffic between different sites. It is called siteslike (https://www.siteslike.com/).

    What I found shocked me though it probably shouldn’t have. There was a lot of common traffic between Above Top Secret and the racist/neo-nazi site Stormfront.

    See evidence below.

    I then decided to write some of the people in UFO circles who had done AMAs on Above Top Secret at one time or another and present them with the evidence.

    To their credit almost all were equally and most stated they would not be back to ATS in any form. The lone exception was George Knapp, a journalist for KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, frequent host of “Coast to Coast AM” and the man who popularized Bob Lazar’s story of aliens at Area-51.

    Here is what he said: “I’m understand what you aresaying but I think this is pretty much the same for every conspriacy website on the internet. And eveyr other website, for that matter. These kidns of topics attract interest from some strange quarters. different peopel and causes use informaiton for their own ends–an unforunate by product of afree society. If ATS came out and endorsed the racists, that would be a cause for concern, but the fact that racists are part of a 4 million member website is not a surprise at all. As for your observation that there is a great deal of political discord and rancor on the site,welcome to the modern world. That exists everywhere online, in every single forum, no matter what the topic. It is why so many newspapers and other online content providers have done away altogether with comments sections, because they all degrade into partisan shouting matches. I rarely log onto ATS but I don’t think I am going to separate myself from them just because some of the users/posters are nutballs. That is a given, no matter what content is presented online, or on the airwaves, or in any other type of media. Sad but true.”

    So there you have it, racism in UFO/Conspiracy circles is taken as just a normal part of the community by many within it and those who popularize it.

    Ref: Evidence in the form of screenshots from SitesLike and ATS:
    http://i.imgur.com/Eu3hdKl.png
    http://i.imgur.com/6XCTuJp.png
    http://i.imgur.com/DYxME9p.png

  20. Ivan
    June 22, 2017 at 6:25 PM

    Regarding the prevalence of extreme right wing opinions in the conspiracy theory world, I’d like to offer an observation of mine regarding the Above Top Secret forums. I’ve dropped in there occasionally since about 2000, more as entertainment than anything, reading about absurd theories on a Sunday afternoon, like some people would curl up with a a trashy romance novel.

    When I first started visiting the site I wasn’t aware of any particular political position of the posts on there, although that was probably due to it’s relative newness to me, so I just wasn’t picking up on this.

    Then with the election of G.W. Bush the political tone of the theories and postings on the site shifted to the left, most likely due to it being particularly popular in the USA and the sitting president being of a right of center party and later due to the controversy over the invasion of Iraq.

    During the Bush years, the site was full of theories of the “Bush family links to Nazi era Germany”, “Bush administration links to companies profiting from the Iraq war” variety. Not that surprising when the whole basis of the conspiracy community is holding “alternative opinions”, especially to those with any kind of power or authority. Therefore the “Bush = evil” position becoming dominant among the conspiracy theorists on the site seemed just a naturally occurring situation.

    This continued until the election of Barack Obama in 2008 after which there was a steady shift in a different direction, with the “Bush = evil” community being replaced by those spouting “Obama isn’t American”, “Obama is a secret Muslim” type theories. Again this was probably to be expected, with the swing of the political pendulum of those in power being away the right of center, to those left of it.

    Again this continued during Obama’s presidency, as it had during his predecessors, growing over time both in the range of theories, as well as the fervour of those that held them.

    The political pendulum of the conspiracy theorists had simply swung to its opposite extent.

    But then something strange happened… after Obama left office to be replaced by a president of the political right, the pendulum appeared to be stuck.

    I can’t say why this occurred, but I believe it may have something to do with the motivation behind much of the anti Obama theorising that had occurred during his presidency, namely racism. Previously the attitudes that pushed the pendulum from political side to side, were somewhat softer, less visceral, but the racism that contributed to some of the anti Obama theorising on the site changed that.

    In the place of some of the fuzzier”college kids” theorising of the past, such as alien visitations, the Military Industrial Complex, JFK assassination, varied pyramid mysteries and the more spiky “current president = evil” variety that generally focused on policies (real or imagined) or their “connections” to varied dodgy dealing, there were a new kind, that focused on much more personal issues of race and religion.

    It would seem that on the back of this new focus, the conspiracy theory community attracted a new crowd, who’s main motivation was intolerance and hatred of various kinds, motivations that go beyond the ebbs and flows of the usual, broadly politically motivated theorising. In addition to these new voices on the forums, their arrival may well have pulled out from under the rug, the less attractive opinions held by some members of the general conspiracy crowd.

    I still visit the site on Sunday afternoons, to take a look at “the show”, but over the last few years, particular the last year or so, the site has definitely acquired a flavour in places that is hard to stomach.

    Whether this new flavour is representative of the conspiracy theory world as a whole, I have little idea, as my main exposure to it had been ATS and various skeptic blogs, the latter I have only been visiting for two or three years. However it does seem that there is a relatively new breed at play (or at least one I wasn’t aware of much before) for whom belief in a range of conspiracy theories in inextricably linked to some vile personal beliefs.

  21. June 23, 2017 at 7:51 AM

    There is a wealth of information, I would suppose, that can be mined from such sites in psychology and social sciences. The trouble with such ideas is that society is so chalk-full of influences that it’s hard to tease out the cause and effect. Fascinating stuff, though. I do agree – it’s hard to stomach.

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