Banned at the Apostate Website!
January 18, 2019
Actually, he wanted me to engage on his podcast, where you shoot from the hip. Again and again, he invited me there. I thought a forum in which you can think out your remarks beforehand was better. I put a human face on an outfit he is trying very hard to demonize. It finally pushed him to his limit. After making six or eight comments on his site, I found this:
Lloyd: “I simply want to present the other point of view,” well, that’s partly true, Tom. You want to present “the other point of view” on your own terms – i.e. by trolling me in comments and tweets. You don’t quite have the guts to come on my YouTube channel for a conversation where you can express “the other point of view” (Watchtower’s point of view, which everyone is already aware of) in front of thousands of people. You’d much rather selectively violate the command to refrain from engaging with apostates as it suits you. Again, I wonder if there are any other commands from your masters “the Slave” regarding which you feel it’s ok to pick and choose? Or is your hypocrisy confined solely to this particular area of Watchtower’s rulebook?”
When I tried to reply, I found I was blocked. There was nothing to do but take it to the Twitter street, where I found the same response:
He: “My point is you are already violating the rules by engaging with me (some would say trolling)....You may as well go the whole hog and come on my YouTube channel for an interview if you have something to say, but I doubt you have the backbone.”
Tom: “I don’t. Better thought-out written remarks than shoot-from-the-hip debate. Did I really just get banned at your site? Despite 2 tries, my last reply to you did not stick. All were polite, respectful, and on-topic. None repeated. (1)
“If that is ‘trolling,’ it is not like the liar who pretended to be GB, even tweeting “Pray for our brothers in Russia” before finally revealing he didn’t give a hoot in hell for “our brothers in Russia.” It was all a ruse to draw in the guileless ones. (2)
“Let me post my blocked remark here and then call it quits for now: “Lloyd, if I am misbehaving, you can toss me, and let persons reflect of the irony of that, since you repeatedly asked to me debate in the first place. ‘Trolling’ is in the eye of the beholder. (3)
“I have not insulted anyone, On the contrary, I have gone out of my way not to on several occasions. For example, when someone here said: ‘Are you calling us liars who exaggerate?’ I made clear that I was not. (4)
“On forums where there is a comment section, I have never blocked anyone that I can recall. I would if someone became an abusive and unrelenting pest, but I have not yet had to. (5)
“In debate classes you are given an argument and assigned to take this side and then that. The clear message is that it is technique over substance. Better to write, where one can compose words with thought. Let both points of view be presented honestly, (6)
“Jesus never debated. In fact, he routinely did things that would infuriate devotees of debate. He used hyperbole. He answered questions with counter-questions. He spun involved parables that he rarely explained as a means of reaching the heart. (7)”
My opponent was not impressed with this exchange: “I’m amazed at your continuing excuses for refusing to come on my channel for a conversation (not debate, necessarily) when the real reason is: you are afraid you will be pulled into the backroom by your elders.”
Tom: “You are young and vigorous. I am older who perhaps must take care that my teeth do not fall out or my cane trip me up. Or like Paul (2 Cor 10:10) whose letters are weighty but whose personal presence is weak. Or slow of speech like Moses. I believe I did not misrepresent anything. (1)
“(2) I disagreed, which is not the same, always respectfully, and stood up for a group that you continually attack without check, and whose similar attacks have resulted in Russian machine guns literally pointed at the heads of some.
“(3) A substantial blow for free speech on a site that purports to celebrate freedom. [I tagged a couple of journalists at this point] Of course, I take no comments on my site either, but in doing so forsake the flood of accolades and attaboys from my chums, which you clearly do not with yours, now as tight as the Russian press.”
He did not take this lying down. There was a flurry of back and forth tweets:
He: “It has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with you knowingly misrepresenting my views and opinions. You can do that on here [Twitter] as much as you like, but on my website, nope.
“You get only one chance to not misrepresent/twist my words into something other than I meant or intended. You did this at least twice, hence you are blocked from commenting on [my site], so please don’t expect sympathy.”
Did I do that, misrepresent him? He gave two examples, offered here with my own words in quotes: (Let the reader use discernment.)
1) “Lloyd’s outrageous video assertion that elders visit patients in their hospital room to make sure they toe the line on blood policy.” - An oversimplification. I am sure some elders visit patients on compassionate grounds, but that is not the sole thinking behind the HLC system.
2) “Lloyd’s assertion that when persons apply for reinstatement they do so just to reestablish social ties” - I never asserted that people only get reinstated to be reunited. I am sure many do so because, like you, they are simply indoctrinated and know no other way of living.
He didn’t like me tying him in with the Russian persecution, either: “You cannot blame me for what’s going on in Russia, which I have spoken out against unequivocally. Backward regimes have been persecuting religious minorities long before there was Google or YouTube.”
I declared war on these guys after the three (now four) incendiary anti-Witness articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and I learned that the reporter checked in at one such anti-Witness site between articles and was heralded as though Trump appealing to his base. It is the only reason I would engage: journalists hang out there. Maybe just one, but who can say? One is enough. So I weighed in to offer such ones context that they will not get otherwise. A journalist wants that. It is an abundance of anecdotal evidence at the anti-Witness site, and anecdotal evidence must always be given context so as to mean anything. There must be context so that you know what you are looking at, and this is what I tried to supply until I was shoved over the trap door. I mean, it’s his site. He can do what he wants with it. But there is reason to hope no reporter will rely on it solely.
…“Lloyd writes that he disapproves of Witnesses being arrested and jailed in Russia. I have no doubt that he means it. However, he disapproves in the same sense that the California arsonist disapproves of the state burning to the ground. One of the driving forces of the ban in that country is one Alexander Dvorkin, who pushes the same ‘anti-cult’ narrative Lloyd endorses. He pushes it on many groups, not just Jehovah’s Witnesses, though they have been his prime target. He wants to ‘protect’ people by preventing them from hearing ideas that he thinks are ‘socially destructive,’ a goal not unlike some of the goals expressed here. The only difference is that he has seen it more fully accomplished.
“Acting on his prodding sends a clear ‘open hunting season’ on religious minorities. Various human-rights and law experts convened in France in January 2018, where one of them observed of Mr. Dvorkin: He ‘enjoys disseminating inflammatory narratives and hate speech.’ The reason that Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses have not caved under his mischief (which is added to nationalistic and dominant Church pressures) is that they do not see themselves as followers of ‘eight men,’ the meme relentlessly pushed here, but of the Bible. Acquiescing to the authority of the eight men taking the lead is little more than acquiescing to the authority of the teacher, boss, military leader, coach, parent, or consulted advisor, something that was once routine and unremarkable but is now portrayed as selling out one’s soul.”
[A journalist had ambushed one of our people, who took cover, and I addressed that]
“When a person is unexpectedly accosted by a reporter wanting an answer to something that will take more than a sound bite to answer, everyone knows it is a cheap shot. That is not to say they do not cheer if it is an enemy, but they nonetheless know. People are not AI machines. His mind is a million miles away. Still, his discomfiture is inevitably and dishonestly painted as ‘proof’ that he is a flat-out liar. That is why respected sources content themselves with: ‘So and so was contacted but declined to comment for this article.’”
I don’t know if it was a good idea or not. Like Howard Beale, I just got “mad as hell and couldn’t take it anymore.” After every comment there came a torrent of abuse. I changed no one’s mind and was routinely called a hypocrite, sometimes an a*****e. You have to expect this going in and you cannot take such things to heart. You certainly cannot get into tit for tat, nor should you be so dumb as to say someone does not correctly perceive his or her own experience. How would you know? It is the constant with all anecdotal evidence, which may (not likely) be understated, may be (more likely) overstated, or may occasionally even be made up. You have no way of knowing, so you ought not touch it. You have to realize going in that you will lose.
My engagement was all on account of the journalists, and maybe I just fool myself as to how many hang out there. Who can say? At each comment I was reminded that I am “ordered” not to engage and “not allowed” to be there. It turns out that I truly was “not allowed,” but it was not by my own people. It was by the web host himself after I pasted his ears back a little. Thereafter, do you think he would correct the impression his own readers had that Witness HQ had “ordered” me to cease and desist? “Tell them it was you” I told him. But he said that he didn’t owe me a thing. He likes softballs that he can swat out of the park.
….Maybe I should have gone on his podcast, but I figured it might be like the time, long ago, when I filled in for a school bus driver in a very rough district, and one of the deboarding students spit on me, and then he and all his chums assembled to invite me on their ‘podcast’ just outside the bus. I decided to do like Jesus, who was not even driving a bus, when he was spit upon. ‘But they say that he is very nice in person,’ his buddies told me. Doubtless he would pour me Kool-Aid with a smile to quench my thirst. I never entertained the idea, though I did stretch it out for a while:
….And now I must face the music from my own side, and there may be some. His continual taunts at being “not allowed” were surely overdone, and it must have made him feel a little silly when I kept coming nonetheless, until he felt compelled to “not allow” me himself. Still, nobody here thinks it is the bee’s knees to engage with these characters, and I may hear about it. And they could be right. Maybe I am the yo-yo on the Jerusalem wall singing out just when Hezekiah is telling the troops to zip it. But I just couldn’t take it anymore.
The Witness organization cannot be expected to defend itself on social media, if on any media. It takes the scriptural view of Jesus at Matthew 11, noting that grumblers slam him no matter what he does, before finally saying, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ “wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” It is like David who kept mum as ‘all day long they muttered against him.’ ‘It is like the plowman who knows that if you look behind while plowing, the furrows get all flaky.’ They don’t do it. The common view of opposers is that the Witness headship is telling members what to do, while it cynically manipulates all from above. That view is wrong. They practice what they preach and they do it themselves. The organization headship cites Hebrews 13:7 about ‘imitating the faith of those who are taking the lead among you.’ They don’t go on social media at all. They prefer a less raucous channel, and content themselves with news releases at the website that inform but do not kick back at the critics.
It is scriptural. It is proper. But there is a downside. By staying mum on specifics, essentially our enemies get to define us to the news media who refer to a cover statement about “abhorring child abuse” as “boiler-plate” and then go to former members who will eagerly fill their ears with accounts that we could counter by adding context but don’t. What’s a reporter to do? He goes to who fills his ears.
It will fall upon the Witness journalist to do it, if it is to be done, and there aren’t many of them. If fourteen years of blogging, not shying from controversial things, does not qualify me to take a shot at it, what does? If you are in a spiritual paradise, or even a vacation paradise, you do not have to concern yourself with removing the trash. It may be even dangerous to do so, because there is broken glass and used syringes. It’s not for everyone, and maybe for no one. But I thought I’d give it a go, and I at last got under this fellow’s skin, the big baby.