Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Blog Wars

Edit:  You might notice I had briefly posted this and then took it down. Geoff Biddulph performed a stand up and peacemaking gesture to try and smooth things over. I appreciate his outreach and would like to count him as a friend. Unfortunately, his email did not show a hint of self awareness. The only problem in his mind was my "stalking" of him.  (Which in itself is insulting. Geoff isn't that important, but I do peruse the bloggernacle, and by extension his blog, the same way I read the daily newspaper.) Because he showed no hint of self awareness, and a bit of self righteousness even in his peaceful gesture, it is likely that he will do the same things that bothered so many people in the first place. In fact, he insulted me as a war monger before my post had even made it through moderation. Even though I really hate drama, and even posted on facebook how little attention I get because I avoid it, I felt I had to repost this. If you don't like drama you can go ahead and skip to the last paragraph.

I generally don't participate a great deal in online conversations.  But I do like to make my thoughtful opinions known. I like to participate even less in needless flame wars. Its why I walked away from this comments of this thread for example, where I am called everything in the book for literally a month. (Look for Irven Hill and Gary Hunt's comments. One of them said he is only rude to people he believes are "complete pricks" like me, and he was so bad that even his wife agreed he was a pig.)

Two posts at the group blog, Millennial Star, have been deleted and got me banned from the site (?!?!lol?!?!).

First Post: 

On this post, Ivan Wolfe asked if the new Mormon candidate, Evan McMullin would get my vote.

This was my reply:

I’m glad you asked because I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days. I’ve never thought Hillary and democratic policies would be a good choice. And I can’t believe that Trump has a single vote, let alone has actually become the nominee. I could spend another thousand words describing how he makes my skin crawl and how I’m ashamed of the Republican party over his candidacy. I won’t because I’ve already said it since day one. I was a breath away from quitting the party, but I realized its my party too. So I’m sticking around because somebody has to rebuild a principled conservative movement.

That left me in the position of many. But I just can’t vote for Gary Johnson either. I’ve been dealing with annoying, trollish libertarians for pretty close to ten years (since Ron Paul's campaigns where he tried his hardest to seem like that drunk crazy uncle I never want to talk to but I’m stuck sitting next to every thanksgiving). And I’ve found their ignorance is only matched by the arrogance and pugnaciousness with which they state their opinions. [edit to add: remember the trolls linked in the first paragraph and Geoff's response. Notice how many times I am called a liar, sophist, disingenuous (another word for liar, ), rude, a war monger, and idiotic.] Needless to say, I’m already not very inclined to vote for Johnson to begin with, and every interview I’ve seen he doesn’t give answers that are very coherent let alone resonate with me.

That’s my long way of saying I’m really wondering what I’m going to do. For a long time I thought I would just leave it blank and vote on the rest of the ticket, or write in Mitt Romney. And here comes McMullin. I like his resume and the policy positions he advances. Of course since I’ve interviewed with the CIA and I now work with a major think tank on foreign policy, I’m somewhat partial to a national security hawk. Its been very sad to realize that this strange feeling I have listening to McMullin actually comes from having a choice I can at least somewhat believe in.

I’m not completely sold yet. He might bomb in some future interviews and turn out to be kind of a joke, but he can’t give as bad of answers as Trump. I mean from mocking McCain’s captivity and Megan Kelley’s menstrual cycle all the way to suggesting second amendment supporters would “take care of” Hillary, I can’t see McMullin saying anything that would make a vote for him any worse than a vote for Trump. But the whole reason I’m not voting for Trump is because I need to say with a clear conscience that I’m still a solid, principled conservative, and I don’t vote for any clown just because he’s got an R next to his name. So we’ll see. If McMullin keeps it together and sounds credible he’s got my vote. [end reply]

As you can see I was clearly out of control.  I only responded because Ivan Wolfe asked the question. He is generally one of the more fair moderators [though even he added a rude comment after my post]. But I was deleted and Geoff responded by attacking neocons, and by implication me.  I reject the term since Ronald Reagan provided the blue print for the modern Republican party by opposing the Evil Empire with military force. But since I support the selected use of military force isolationists like to use that term.

Second Post:

The next comment responded to attacks on other people's prayers. I was going to sit this out, but Geoff made a comment that was so spectacularly mean and hypocritical I felt I had to respond.  Several people defended the prayers at the Democratic convention and Geoff said this:

"Dave K and K, thank you for being so self-righteous. I wrote this post knowing that we would get a few commenters of your ilk. The Murmurnacle is filled with the most self-righteous people around, and I knew I could count on a few commenters to confirm that."

I responded:

The irony was just too much for me to stay silent. I think its pretty easy to praise the worship of those who are like you, and negatively judge those that are different, and who infuse their prayers with requests based on different politics. Personally, I didn't enjoy the second prayer, but I've been to enough worship services that I can forgive the style. The content of the prayer was a bit off putting as well, but most likely its driven by my dislike for liberal politics more than anything else. I don't know for sure because I didn't think about it that much, but its a possibility any conservative or holier than thou libertarian should consider. I think David K and K made great points. I didn't find them unrighteous or members of the "murmunacle" for saying so because one of the basics of comparing religions is to avoid the tendency to compare your best with their worst. (Literally, this is in the first lesson at BYU-I when the class includes a study of another faith.) Instead of selective comparisons that make ourselves look better we should strive to posses "holy envy" where we find what we can admire and praise from other religions and prayers. I really enjoyed Corey Booker's speech for example. I still think can't stand the democratic platform, but I could find good in that speech at least.

You posted awhile ago how you can't understand why apologists are hated, and perhaps that they should be given a break. I agree that we shouldn't hate and those that do should give the objects of their hatred a break. (As Corey Booker said in quoting Lincoln, with malice towards none but charity towards all.) But we should also take a hard look in the mirror and consider how being smugly self righteous might contribute to that hatred. I'm duplicating this post elsewhere in case your moderating policies are as fair as your assessment of prayers. [end quote]

My assessment: 

As you can see, that is bad enough, full of atrocities and horrible rhetoric.  I'm being sarcastic, I disagreed with a person, pointed out some self righteous behavior, and included some principles that would make them more charitable. Its never easy to tell a person they are wrong, nor does it feel good to be told you're wrong. But I've been in enough cat fights that I know how to chill out and produce a thoughtful rebuttal. (And its why I don't participate in most online discussions. As the movie War Games would say, sometimes the only winning move is not to play.)

I didn't question anybody reading comprehension, which is a favorite tactic of Geoff's.  I didn't call use any loaded language to insult him.  I simply offered thoughtful pertinent points. Unlike Geoff I won't bully people off of my blog and then complain about bullies. (I do moderate unreasonable personal attacks, which, in seven years of blogging, have only come from radical libertarians.) I don't pontificate on why people might hate me, and then question somebodies reading comprehension a short time later. A place that is charitable would give space to those that disagree, they would try to see other points of view and try to avoid the use of loaded language.  That is why I say the Millennial Star is devoid of much thought or charity, and its mostly a vanity project for its perma bloggers like Geoff Biddulph. To see a good example of a post that shows charity and understanding, check out the landing instructions from Boyd Peterson. They can quote lots of scripture and defend a kind of right wing orthodoxy.  But if you stop by there on any given day you will notice how mean some people can become in defending the church.

The Upside: 

 Luckily, most of my research is taking me away from petty bloglords. It took over seven years, but my research is starting to change the way we think about the text.  Please stay tuned for a collection of links to my research featured at Book of Mormon Central and my FAIR Mormon presentation. I have a great research agenda that includes the most comprehensive study of preemptive warfare in the Book of Mormon, and my research on the battle experience marches towards publication at the Interpreter. After hearing my presentation at the FAIR conference, Daniel Peterson wanted to take a look at my manuscript! Hopefully I'll have an announcement to make soon!! Thanks for reading!!

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